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Annual Checkups Prove Vital to Teen Health

teenager

It's tough getting teenagers to do things—take out the trash, clean their rooms, be home by curfew. Trying to get them into a pediatrician's office packed with screaming toddlers and draped in Dora the Explorer wallpaper? Forget it.

By the time they're teens, they've had their vaccines. If schools don't require an annual physical, and the kid seems healthy, what's the harm in skipping a routine exam?

While it may not seem like a big deal, allowing teens to skip out on their annual checkups can lead to oversights in their health and can affect their relationships with future doctors. Regular visits to a family doctor allow for benchmarking, which can help doctors recognize changes in health as well as early warning signs of many diseases. Also, by visiting a family doctor on a regular basis, teens learn how to talk about their health and developmental concerns with a physician, a lesson that proves valuable later in life.

When teens come in for their annual checkup, the doctor takes a look at their health from head to toe, examining both their physical and emotional well-being, which is vital during these formative years.

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Physical Health

The main component of an annual checkup, also known as a physical or well exam, is checking the patient's physical health.

During this portion of the exam, the doctor will review your teen's medical history and assess his or her current health by assessing:

  • Height/weight
  • Eyes
  • Neck
  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Arms, hands, legs, and feet
  • Reflexes
  • Blood pressure
  • Spine health/scoliosis

Doctors may also administer gender-specific checks. For example, females may be given a breast exam (or taught how to administer their own). Males may be checked for hernias and given a testicular exam (or be taught how to administer their own).

Emotional Health

Teens are all over the map when it comes to their emotions. They're the embodiment of hormonal mayhem, and often parents are the ones who take the brunt of it all.

The transformation from child to adult is as much mental as it is physical. Changes in body and mood should be monitored and discussed with your child. Of course, teens may not always be willing to speak about their feelings with you, but they may be willing to talk to a doctor with whom they feel comfortable (and the assurance of physician-patient confidentiality helps too).

In addition to checking a teen's physical health, doctors will discuss developmental topics to assess emotional health. Some of these topics include:

  • Puberty
  • Sexual development
  • Substance abuse
  • Nutrition
  • Stress management (at school and work)
  • Self-esteem/body image
  • Peer and family relationships

Scheduling Your Teen's Annual Physical Exam

If your teen is due for an annual checkup, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with one of Drexel's family medicine doctors.

For additional information about teen health, be sure to check out the family medicine and primary care sections of our website.

The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.

The images being used are for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted is a model.

 
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