What to Expect During This Visit
Your doctor and/or nurse will probably:
1. Check your teen's weight and height, calculate body mass index (BMI), and plot the measurements on growth charts.
2. Check your teen's blood pressure, vision, and possibly hearing.
3. Ask questions, address concerns, and offer advice about your teen's:
Eating. Teens should eat three meals a day that include lean protein, whole grains, at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, and three servings of low-fat or nonfat dairy products or milk alternatives.
Sleeping. Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night. Poor sleep is common during the teen years and can hurt school and athletic performance. Biological changes make teens want to stay up later, but early school start times can make it hard for them to get enough sleep. Encourage your teen to follow a relaxing bedtime routine. Digital devices, like phones and computers, should be turned off before bed.
Physical activity. Teens should aim for 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Encourage your teen to limit his or her screen time to no more than 2 hours daily, not including time spent on homework. Set a good example by limiting your own screen time and exercising daily.
Growth and development. By age 17, it's common for teens to:
- if female, have gotten a first period by now. If your daughter hasn't, talk to your doctor.
- if male, to show signs of pubertal development, including testicular enlargement, penile lengthening, and the growth of pubic hair
- be influenced by their peer group
- explore different identities to help them find where they fit in
- have sexual feelings. This includes an interest in dating and relationships, exploring one's sexuality, and becoming aware of sexual orientation and gender identity.
- begin to think abstractly and reflect on how to make decisions, but still be impulse-driven and not think about the consequences of their actions
- want to engage in risky behaviors
4. Do a physical exam. The doctor will look at the skin, listen to the heart and lungs, check the back for curvature of the spine, and check for puberty development. A chaperone should be present during the exam.
5. Update immunizations. Immunizations can protect people from serious illnesses, so it's important that your teen receive them on time. Immunization schedules can vary from office to office, so talk to your doctor about what to expect.
6. Order tests. Your doctor may assess your teen's risk for anemia, high cholesterol, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Here are some things to keep in mind until your teen's next checkup at 18 years:
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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