Stay Safe at Work

The Basics

The Basics: Overview

Staying safe at work is very important. If you don’t work in a safe way, you can get hurt or become sick. The good news is that there are things you can do – both at work and at home – to lower your chances of getting hurt.

Take these steps to prevent injuries at work:

  • Lift things safely (use your legs if possible).
  • Arrange your work area to fit your body.
  • Take short breaks and stretch.
  • Wear your protective equipment.
  • Ask about available health resources at work.
  • Ask questions when you need to.

If you have ideas about how to make your work safer or healthier, ask your supervisor how you can share them.

Your overall health can also affect how you feel and perform at work. To be able to work safely, it’s important for you to:

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Stay active.
  • Manage your weight.
  • Take steps to manage stress.
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The Basics: Types of Injuries

Why do I need to take steps to prevent injuries at work?

All types of jobs – even desk jobs – can lead to injuries. Back injuries are the most common type of workplace injury.

You are at risk of getting hurt at work if you:

  • Lift or carry heavy objects. This can strain or injure your back, shoulders, or neck.
  • Do the same activity over and over again, like typing or working on an assembly line. This can lead to a type of injury called a repetitive motion injury.
  • Don’t wear the right protective equipment for the work you do, like earplugs or safety goggles. This can lead to hearing loss or eye injuries.

Taking steps to stay safe and healthy at work can help you get more done at work and feel better overall.

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Take Action!

Take Action: Protect Yourself

Follow these tips to stay safe on the job.

Lift things safely.

When you lift something heavy:

  • Bend at your knees, not at your waist.
  • Keep your back straight.
  • Test the object first by trying to move it with your foot. If it’s too heavy, get help.
  • Get more tips on lifting things safely.

Wear protective equipment.

Wearing protective equipment can lower your chances of injury. Protective equipment includes things like:

  • Earplugs
  • Safety glasses or goggles
  • Work gloves
  • Hard hats
  • Hard-toed shoes

The type of protective equipment you need depends on the type of work you do. To learn more, check out this list to see what kind of protective equipment you need in your job.

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Take Action: Arrange Your Work Area

Prevent repetitive motion injuries.

Take the time to arrange your work area to fit your body. Don’t try to adjust your body to work with equipment that’s not set up right for you. Talk with your boss or employer about how to make sure your work area and equipment are set up correctly.

Try these tips:

  • “Warm up” and stretch before you start working.
  • Sit or stand up straight while you work. If you sit, adjust the chair or desk to fit your height.
  • If you use tools or equipment, put them where you can easily reach them.
  • Take breaks often and stretch when doing repetitive tasks.
  • “Warm up” and stretch before you start working.

If you work at a computer:

Check out these links to learn more about:

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Take Action: Take Breaks

Take short breaks.

Even a 5-minute break can help increase your concentration and reduce stress. Take short breaks often and stretch or go for a walk.

Understand the resources you have at work.

Many employers offer free programs that can help you stay healthy. Find out what resources are available to you, even if you don’t need help right now.

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Take Action: Healthy Habits

Get enough sleep.

Getting a good night’s sleep every night is important for performing well at work. When you are well rested, you are more likely to make good decisions and avoid getting hurt. To sleep better:

  • Don’t eat a big meal close to bedtime.
  • Stay away from drinks with caffeine (like coffee, soda, and energy drinks) several hours before you go to sleep.
  • Get regular physical activity, but don’t exercise right before you go to bed.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet.

Stay healthy.

A healthy body helps protect you from injuries on the job. To stay in shape:

  • Eat healthy – Your body needs the right vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to stay healthy.
  • Get active – To get the health benefits of physical activity, do a combination of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
  • Manage your weight – To stay at a healthy weight, balance the calories you eat with the calories you use.

Take steps to manage stress.

Chronic (ongoing) stress at work or at home can increase your risk of getting sick or hurt.

You can reduce stress by planning ahead, noticing when you feel stressed, and taking time to relax. Learn more about how to manage stress.

Make the Most of Your Teen’s Visit to the Doctor (Ages 15 to 17)

The Basics

The Basics: Overview

Teens ages 15 to 17 need to go to the doctor or nurse for a “well-child visit” once a year.

A well-child visit is when you take your teen to the doctor for a full checkup to make sure he is healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

At a well-child visit, the doctor or nurse can help catch any problems early, when they may be easier to treat.

To make the most of your teen’s visit:

  • Gather important information
  • Make a list of questions for the doctor
  • Know what to expect from the visit
  • Help your teen get more involved in the visit

What about cost?

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans must cover well-child visits. Depending on your insurance, your teen may be able to get well-child checkups at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to learn more.

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The Basics: Child Development

How do I know if my teen is growing and developing on schedule?

Your teen’s doctor or nurse can help you identify “developmental milestones,” or signs to look for that show your teen is developing normally. This is an important part of the well-child visit.

Some developmental milestones are related to your teen’s behavior and learning, and others are about physical changes in your teen’s body.

See a complete list of developmental milestones for your teen.

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The Basics: Behavior Changes

What are some changes I might see in my teen’s behavior, feelings, and relationships?

Developmental milestones for teens ages 15 to 17 include:

  • Less time spent with parents or family, and more time spent with friends
  • Less fighting with parents than during ages 13 and 14
  • More worry about the future (like going to college or finding a job)
  • More interest in romantic relationships and sex
  • Trying new things, including experimenting with tobacco, alcohol, or drugs

This is also a time when some teens may start showing signs of depression, anxiety, or eating disorders. Your teen may also have a girlfriend or boyfriend.

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The Basics: Physical Changes

What are some physical changes my teen is going through?

Teens ages 15 to 17 are usually either finished or close to finishing puberty. Puberty is when a child’s body develops into an adult’s body.

Although it may be different for some teens, most girls finish puberty by age 15. Most boys finish puberty by age 16.

Teens might not ask you questions about sex, their bodies, or relationships. That’s why it’s a good idea for you to start the conversation. You can also encourage your teen to ask the doctor or nurse questions about body changes.

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Take Action!

Take Action: Get Ready

Take these steps to help you and your teen get the most out of well-child visits.

Gather important information.

Take any medical records you have to the appointment, including a record of shots your teen has received.

Make a list of any important changes in your teen’s life since the last visit, like a:

  • Separation or divorce
  • New school or a move to a new neighborhood
  • Serious illness or death of a friend or family member

Use this tool to keep track of your teen’s family health history.

Help your teen get more involved in visits to the doctor.

The doctor will probably ask you to leave the room during part of the visit, usually the physical exam. This lets your teen develop a relationship with the doctor or nurse and ask questions in private. It’s an important step in teaching your teen to take control of his health care.

Your teen can also:

For more ideas, check out these tips to help teens take charge of their health careExternal Link: You are leaving healthfinder.gov.

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Take Action: Ask Questions

Make a list of questions you want to ask the doctor.

Before the well-child visit, write down 3 to 5 questions you have. This visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions about:

  • A health condition your teen has (like acne or asthma)
  • Changes in your teen’s behavior or mood
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Your teen’s sexual development
  • Tobacco, alcohol, or drug use
  • Problems at school (like learning challenges or not wanting to go to school)

Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • Is my teen up to date on shots?
  • How can I make sure my teen is getting enough physical activity?
  • How can I help my teen eat healthy?
  • Is my teen at a healthy weight?
  • How can our family set rules more effectively?
  • How can I help my teen become a safe driver?

Take a notepad and write down the answers so you can remember them later.

Ask what to do if your teen gets sick.

Make sure you know how to get in touch with a doctor or nurse when the office is closed. Ask how to get hold of the doctor on call, or if there’s a nurse information service you can call at night or on the weekend.

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Take Action: What to Expect

Know what to expect.

During each well-child visit, the doctor or nurse will ask you questions, do a physical exam, and update your teen’s medical history. You and your teen will also be able to ask your questions and discuss any problems.

The doctor or nurse will ask your teen questions.

The doctor or nurse may ask about:

  • Behavior – Do you have trouble following directions at home or at school?
  • Health – Do you often get headaches or have other kinds of pain?
  • Safety – Do you always wear a seatbelt in the car? Do you and your friends use tobacco, alcohol, or drugs?
  • School and activities – Do you look forward to going to school? What do you like to do after school?
  • Eating habits – What do you eat on a regular day?
  • Family and friends – Have there been any changes in your family recently? Do you have close friends?
  • Emotions – Do you often feel sad or bored? Is there someone you trust who you can talk to about problems?
  • Sexuality – Do you have any questions about your body? Do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend?
  • The future – Have you started to think about what you want to do after high school?

The answers to questions like these will help the doctor or nurse make sure your teen is healthy and developing normally. See a list of other questions the doctor may ask [PDF – 1.1 MB]External Link: You are leaving healthfinder.gov.

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Take Action: Physical Exam

The doctor or nurse will also check your teen’s body.

To check your teen’s body, the doctor or nurse will:

  • Measure height and weight and figure out your teen’s body mass index (BMI)
  • Check your teen’s blood pressure
  • Check your teen’s vision and hearing
  • Check your teen’s body parts (this is called a physical exam)
  • Decide if your teen needs any lab tests, like a blood test
  • Give shots your teen needs
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Take Action: Behavior and Emotions

The doctor or nurse will pay special attention to signs of certain issues.

The doctor or nurse will offer additional help if your teen may be:

  • Depressed
  • Struggling with an eating disorder
  • Using tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs
  • Experiencing any kind of violence

And if your teen may be having sex, the doctor or nurse will talk about preventing STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and pregnancy.

The doctor or nurse will make sure you and your teen have the resources you need.

This may include telling you and your teen about:

  • Websites or apps that have helpful health information
  • Organizations in your community where you can go for help

If necessary, the doctor or nurse may also refer your teen to a specialist.

Make the Most of Your Child’s Visit to the Doctor (Ages 11 to 14)

The Basics

The Basics: Overview

Kids ages 11 to 14 need to go to the doctor or nurse for a “well-child visit” once a year.

A well-child visit is when you take your child to the doctor for a full checkup to make sure she is healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

At a well-child visit, the doctor or nurse can help catch any problems early, when they may be easier to treat.

To make the most of the visit:

  • Gather important information
  • Make a list of questions for the doctor
  • Know what to expect from the visit
  • Help your child get more involved in the visit

What about cost?

Under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, insurance plans must cover well-child visits. Depending on your insurance plan, your child may be able to get well-child checkups at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to learn more.

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The Basics: Child Development

How do I know if my child is growing and developing on schedule?

Your child’s doctor or nurse can help you identify “developmental milestones,” the new skills that children usually develop by a certain age. This is an important part of the well-child visit.

Some developmental milestones are related to your child’s behavior and learning, and others are about physical changes in your child’s body.

Visit these websites to learn more:

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The Basics: Behavior Changes

What are some changes I might see in my child’s feelings, relationships, and behavior?

Developmental milestones for pre-teens and teens ages 11 to 14 include:

  • More interest in their looks and clothes
  • Mood swings (going quickly from happy to sad or sad to happy)
  • More concern about what their friends and classmates think
  • Stronger problem-solving skills
  • Clearer sense of right and wrong
  • Wanting more independence
  • Challenging rules and resisting advice from parents

This is also a time when some kids may start showing signs of depression or eating disorders.

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The Basics: Physical Changes

What are some physical changes my child will go through?

Many kids ages 11 to 14 are going through puberty. Puberty is when a child’s body develops into an adult’s body.

For girls, puberty usually starts between ages 9 and 13. For boys, it usually starts between ages 10 and 13.

You can help by giving your child information about what changes to expect during puberty. You can also encourage your child to talk about puberty with the doctor or another trusted adult, like a teacher or school nurse.

To get ideas for answering questions from your child, check out these questions middle schoolers ask about puberty.

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Take Action!

Take Action: Get Ready

Take these steps to help you and your child get the most out of well-child visits.

Gather important information.

Take any medical records you have to the appointment, including a record of shots your child has received.

Make a list of any important changes in your child’s life since the last visit, like a:

  • Separation or divorce
  • New school or a move to a new neighborhood
  • Serious illness or death of a friend or family member

Use this tool to keep track of your child’s family health history.

Help your child get more involved in visits to the doctor.

Once your child starts puberty, the doctor will usually ask you to leave the room during your child’s physical exam. This lets your child develop a relationship with the doctor or nurse and ask questions in private. It’s an important step in teaching your child to take control of his health care.

Your child can also:

For more ideas, check out these tips to help teens take charge of their health care.External Link: You are leaving healthfinder.gov

Next section Previous section 5 of 9 sections

Take Action: Ask Questions

Make a list of questions you want to ask the doctor.

Before the well-child visit, write down 3 to 5 questions you have. This visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions about:

  • A health condition your child has (like an allergy, asthma, or acne)
  • Changes in behavior or mood
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Problems at school (like learning challenges or not wanting to go to school)

Here are some questions you may want to ask:

Take a notepad and write down the answers so you can remember them later.

Ask what to do if your child gets sick.

Make sure you know how to get in touch with a doctor or nurse when the office is closed. Ask how to get hold of the doctor on call, or if there’s a nurse information service you can call at night or on the weekend.

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Take Action: What to Expect

Know what to expect.

During each well-child visit, the doctor or nurse will ask you questions, do a physical exam, and update your child’s medical history. You’ll also be able to ask your questions and discuss any problems.

The doctor or nurse will ask you and your child questions.

The doctor or nurse may ask about:

  • Behavior – Does your child have trouble following directions at home or at school?
  • Health – Does your child often complain of headaches or other pain?
  • Safety – Does anyone in your home have a gun? If so, is it unloaded and locked in a place where your child can’t get it?
  • School and activities – Does your child look forward to going to school? What does your child like to do after school?
  • Eating habits – What does your child eat on a normal day?
  • Family and friends – Have there been any recent changes in your family? How many close friends does your child have?
  • Emotions – Does your child often seem sad or bored? Does your child have someone to talk to about problems?
  • Sexuality – Have you talked with your child about puberty? Is your child dating?

The answers to questions like these will help the doctor or nurse make sure your child is healthy and developing normally. See a list of other questions the doctor may ask [PDF – 1.3 MB]External Link: You are leaving healthfinder.gov.

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Take Action: Physical Exam

The doctor or nurse will also check your child’s body.

To check your child’s body, the doctor or nurse will:

  • Measure height and weight and figure out your child’s body mass index (BMI)
  • Check your child’s blood pressure
  • Check your child’s vision and hearing
  • Check your child’s body parts (this is called a physical exam)
  • Decide if your child needs any lab tests, like a blood test
  • Give shots your child needs
Next section Previous section 8 of 9 sections

Take Action: Behavior and Emotions

The doctor or nurse will pay special attention to signs of certain issues.

The doctor or nurse will offer additional help if your child may be:

  • Depressed
  • Struggling with an eating disorder
  • Using tobacco, alcohol, or drugs
  • Experiencing any kind of violence

And if your child may be having sex, the doctor or nurse will talk to your child about preventing STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and pregnancy.

The doctor or nurse will make sure you and your child have the resources you need.

This may include telling you and your child about:

  • Websites or apps that have helpful health information
  • Organizations in your community where you can go for help

If necessary, the doctor or nurse may also refer your child to a specialist.

Make the Most of Your Child’s Visit to the Doctor (Ages 5 to 10

The Basics

The Basics: Overview

Children ages 5 to 10 need to go to the doctor or nurse for a “well-child visit” once a year.

A well-child visit is when you take your child to the doctor for a full checkup to make sure he is healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

At a well-child visit, the doctor or nurse can help catch any problems early, when they may be easier to treat. You will also have a chance to ask any questions you may have about your child’s behavior or development.

To make the most of your child’s visit:

  • Gather important information
  • Make a list of questions for the doctor
  • Know what to expect from the visit

What about cost?

Under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, insurance plans must cover well-child visits. Depending on your insurance plan, your child may be able to get well-child checkups at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to learn more.

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The Basics: Child Development

How do I know if my child is growing and developing on schedule?

Your child’s doctor or nurse can help you identify “developmental milestones,” the new skills that children usually develop by a certain age. This is an important part of the well-child visit.

Developmental milestones for children ages 5 to 10 include physical, learning, and social skills – things like:

  • Developing skills for success in school (like listening, paying attention, reading, and math)
  • Taking care of their bodies without help (like bathing, brushing teeth, and getting dressed)
  • Learning from mistakes or failures and trying again
  • Helping with simple chores
  • Following family rules
  • Developing friendships and getting along with other children
  • Participating in activities like school clubs, sports teams, or music lessons

See a complete list of developmental milestones for kids who are:

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Take Action!

Take Action: Get Ready

Take these steps to help you and your child get the most out of well-child visits.

Gather important information.

Take any medical records you have to the appointment, including a record of shots your child has received. If your child gets special services at school because of a health condition or disability, bring that paperwork, too.

Make a list of any important changes in your child’s life since the last doctor’s visit, like a:

  • New brother or sister
  • Serious illness or death of a friend or family member
  • New school or a move to a new neighborhood

Use this tool to keep track of your child’s family health history.

Help your child get more involved in doctor visits.

When children are age 7 or older, most doctors will spend a few minutes alone with them – if the child feels comfortable. This helps your child develop a relationship with the doctor.

You can also help your child get involved by:

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Take Action: Ask Questions

Make a list of questions you want to ask the doctor.

Before the well-child visit, write down 3 to 5 questions you have. This visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions about:

  • A health condition your child has (like asthma, allergies, or a speech problem)
  • Changes in behavior or mood
  • Problems in school – with learning or with other children

Here are some important questions to ask:

  • Is my child up to date on shots?
  • How can I make sure my child is getting enough physical activity?
  • How can I help my child eat healthy?
  • Is my child at a healthy weight?
  • How can I teach my child to use the Internet safely?
  • How can I talk with my child about bullying?
  • How can I help my child know what to expect during puberty?

Take a notepad and write down the answers so you can remember them later.

Ask what to do if your child gets sick.

Make sure you know how to get in touch with a doctor or nurse when the office is closed. Ask how to get hold of the doctor on call, or if there’s a nurse information service you can call at night or on the weekend.

Next section Previous section 4 of 6 sections

Take Action: What to Expect

Know what to expect.

During each well-child visit, the doctor or nurse will ask you questions about your child, do a physical exam, and update your child’s medical history. You’ll also be able to ask your questions and discuss any problems.

The doctor or nurse will ask you and your child questions.

The doctor or nurse may ask about:

  • Behavior – Does your child have trouble following directions at home or at school?
  • Health – Does your child often complain of headaches or other pain?
  • School – Does your child look forward to going to school?
  • Activities – What does your child like to do after school and on weekends?
  • Eating habits – What does your child eat on a normal day?
  • Family – Have there been any changes in your family since your last visit?

Your answers to questions like these will help the doctor or nurse make sure your child is healthy and developing normally.

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Take Action: Physical Exam

The doctor or nurse will also check your child’s body.

To check your child’s body, the doctor or nurse will:

See what else the doctor may ask when your child is:

Get Your Well-Woman Visit Every Year

The Basics

The Basics: Overview

Schedule a well-woman visit with your doctor or nurse every year. The well-woman visit is an important way to help you stay healthy.

Well-woman visits include a full checkup, separate from any other visit for sickness or injury. These visits focus on preventive care for women, which may include:

  • Services, like shots, that improve your health by preventing diseases and other health problems
  • Screenings, which are medical tests to check for diseases early when they may be easier to treat
  • Education and counseling to help you make informed health decisions

What happens during a well-woman visit?

Your well-woman visit is a chance to focus on your overall health and wellness. There are 3 main goals for the visit:

  1. Documenting your health habits and history
  2. Getting a physical exam
  3. Setting health goals
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The Basics: What to Expect

1. Health habits and history

Before your physical exam, the doctor or nurse will ask you to answer some questions about your overall health. These questions may cover topics like your:

  • Medical history and family health history
  • Sexual health and sexual partners
  • Eating habits and physical activity
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs
  • Use of any medicines, vitamins, minerals, or herbs
  • Mental health history, including depression
  • Relationships and safety

2. Physical exam

The doctor or nurse will examine your body, which may include:

  • Measuring your height and weight
  • Calculating your body mass index (BMI) to see if you are at a healthy weight
  • Checking your blood pressure
  • Taking your temperature
  • Doing a clinical breast exam (feeling your breasts and under your arms for lumps or other changes)
  • Doing a pelvic exam (looking at your vagina and feeling around your pelvis)

3. Health goals

You and the doctor or nurse will talk about the next steps for helping you stay healthy. Together, you can decide which screenings or follow-up services are right for you.

If you have health goals, like losing weight or quitting smoking, you and your doctor or nurse can make a plan to help you meet these goals.

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Take Action!

Take Action: Get Ready

Take these steps to get the most out of your well-woman visit.

Know your family health history.

Your family’s health history is an important part of your personal health record. Use this family health history tool to keep track of conditions that run in your family.

Be prepared to tell your doctor or nurse this information during your well-woman visit. Don’t forget to share any new health problems in your family since your last visit.

Make a list of questions for your doctor.

This visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions about:

  • Birth control options
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Preparing to get pregnant
  • Menopause
  • Your safety and relationships
  • Anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues
  • Eating healthy
  • Being more active

Some important questions include:

  • Do I need any important shots?
  • How can I protect myself from HIV and other STDs?
  • Which form of birth control is right for me?
  • How do I know if my relationship is healthy and safe?
  • Where can I get help for a mental health issue?
  • What changes can I make to eat healthier?
  • How can I be more physically active?

Take a notepad or smart phone and write down the answers so you remember them later.

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Take Action: Ask about Screenings

Talk with your doctor or nurse about which screenings you need.

Getting screening tests is one of the most important things you can do for your health. At your well-woman visit, the doctor or nurse may recommend screening you for:

In addition to screenings, the doctor may sometimes recommend counseling for:

Use the myhealthfinder tool to find out which screening tests you may need.

What about cost?

Under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, most insurance plans now cover at least one well-woman visit per year at no cost to you. Plans must also cover some screenings and types of counseling.

For more information about preventive services covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit HealthCare.gov. Contact your insurance provider to find out what’s covered by your plan.

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Take Action: Follow Up

Follow up with the doctor or nurse after your visit.

During your well-woman visit, the doctor or nurse may recommend that you see a specialist or get certain screenings. Try to schedule these follow-up appointments before you leave the doctor’s office.

If that’s not possible, make a note on your calendar to schedule your follow-up appointments. You can ask the doctor’s office to write down the phone number and address for you.

Get more tips on taking an active role in your health care.

Take steps to stay healthy all year.

There are things you can do every day to stay healthy. Find tips on:

Make the Most of Your Child’s Visit to the Doctor (Ages 1 to 4)

The Basics

The Basics: Overview

Young children need to go to the doctor or nurse for a “well-child visit” 7 times between the ages of 1 and 4.

A well-child visit is when you take your child to the doctor for a full checkup to make sure she is healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

At a well-child visit, the doctor or nurse can help catch any problems early, when they may be easier to treat. You will also have a chance to ask questions about things like your child’s behavior, eating habits, and sleeping habits.

To make the most of your child’s visit:

  • Gather important information
  • Make a list of questions for the doctor
  • Know what to expect from the visit

What about cost?

Under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, insurance plans must cover well-child visits. Depending on your insurance plan, your child may be able to get well-child checkups at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to learn more.

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The Basics: Well-Child Visits

How often do I need to take my child for well-child visits?

Young children grow quickly, so they need to visit the doctor or nurse regularly to make sure they are healthy and developing normally.

Children ages 1 to 4 need to see the doctor or nurse when they are:

  • 12 months old
  • 15 months old (1 year and 3 months)
  • 18 months old (1 year and 6 months)
  • 24 months old (2 years)
  • 30 months old (2 years and 6 months)
  • 3 years old
  • 4 years old

If you are worried about your child’s health, don’t wait until the next scheduled visit – call the doctor or nurse right away.

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The Basics: Child Development

How do I know if my child is growing and developing on schedule?

Your child’s doctor or nurse can help you identify “developmental milestones,” the new skills that children usually develop by a certain age. These include physical, mental, language, and social skills.

Each child grows and develops differently. For example, some children will take longer to start talking than others.

Learn more about child development.

At each visit, the doctor or nurse will look for some basic developmental milestones to see if your child is developing on schedule. This is an important part of the well-child visit.

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The Basics: 12 to 18 Months

By age 12 months, most kids:

  • Have at least 1 tooth
  • Stand up by pulling on a table or chair
  • Walk (either with help or on their own)
  • Try to copy animal sounds
  • Say “mama” and “dada,” plus 1 or 2 other words
  • Follow simple directions, like “Pick up the toy”

Check out this complete list of developmental milestones for kids age 1.

By age 15 months, most kids:

  • Bend to reach the floor without falling
  • Put blocks in a cup
  • Make scribbles with crayons
  • Take toys over to show a parent
  • Listen to a story and look at pictures

By age 18 months, most kids:

  • Walk up steps
  • Try to run
  • Climb onto small chairs without help
  • Build towers of 2 to 4 blocks
  • Use a spoon to eat and a cup to drink (with help)
  • Take off simple pieces of clothing (like socks and hats)
  • Point to show someone what they want
  • Play simple pretend games, like feeding a doll

Check out this complete list of developmental milestones for kids age 18 months.

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The Basics: 24 to 30 Months

By age 24 months (2 years), most kids:

  • Stand on their tiptoes
  • Kick a ball without losing their balance
  • Have at least 16 teeth
  • Can tell someone when they are hungry, thirsty, or need to use the bathroom
  • Understand instructions with 2 steps, like “Put on your shoes and then get your ball”
  • Copy others, especially adults and older children
  • Can name items in a picture book (like a cat or dog)

Check out this complete list of developmental milestones for kids age 24 months.

By age 30 months, most kids:

  • Point to different body parts when asked (“Point to your nose.”)
  • Play simple games with other kids, like tag
  • Brush their teeth with help
  • Jump up and down in one place
  • Put on their clothes with help
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The Basics: 3 to 4 Years

By age 3 years, most kids:

  • Have all 20 “baby” teeth
  • Use the toilet during the day (may still need a diaper overnight)
  • Copy a circle when drawing
  • Put one foot on each step when walking up and down stairs
  • Speak in sentences of 3 to 4 words
  • Ask questions
  • Know their first name, age, and sex

Check out this complete list of developmental milestones for kids age 3 years.

By age 4 years, most kids:

  • Hop on one foot and balance on one foot for a short time
  • Use child-safe scissors
  • Count to at least 4
  • Ask lots of questions
  • Play with imaginary (pretend) friends
  • Can name some colors and numbers
  • Play simple board games and card games

Check out this complete list of developmental milestones for kids age 4 years.

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Take Action!

Take Action: Get Ready

Take these steps to help you and your child get the most out of well-child visits.

Gather important information.

Take any medical records you have to the appointment, including a record of shots your child has received.

Make a list of any important changes in your child’s life since the last doctor’s visit, like:

  • A serious illness or death in the family
  • A separation or divorce
  • A change in child care

Use this tool to keep track of your child’s family health history.

Ask other caregivers about your child.

Before you visit the doctor, talk with others who care for your child, like a grandparent, daycare provider, or babysitter. They may be able to help you think of questions to ask the doctor or nurse.

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Take Action: Ask Questions

Make a list of questions you want to ask the doctor.

Before the well-child visit, write down 3 to 5 questions you have. This visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions about:

  • A health condition your child has (like asthma or an allergy)
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • How to help kids in the family get along

Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • Is my child up to date on shots?
  • How can I make sure my child is getting enough physical activity?
  • Is my child at a healthy weight?
  • How can I help my child try different foods?
  • What are appropriate ways to discipline my child?
  • How much TV time and computer time is okay for young children?

Take a notepad and write down the answers so you remember them later.

Ask what to do if your child gets sick.

Make sure you know how to get in touch with a doctor or nurse when the office is closed. Ask how to get hold of the doctor on call – or if there’s a nurse information service you can call at night or during the weekend.

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Take Action: What to Expect

Know what to expect.

During each well-child visit, the doctor or nurse will ask you questions about your child, do a physical exam, and update your child’s medical history. You’ll also be able to ask your questions and discuss any problems you may be having.

The doctor or nurse will ask questions about your child.

The doctor or nurse may ask about:

  • Behavior – Does your child have trouble following directions?
  • Health – Does your child often complain of stomachaches or other kinds of pain?
  • Safety – Does your child always ride in a car seat in the back seat of the car?
  • Activities – What types of pretend play does your child like?
  • Eating habits – What does your child eat on a normal day?
  • Family – Have there been any changes in your family since your last visit?

Your answers to questions like these will help the doctor or nurse make sure your child is healthy and developing normally.

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Take Action: Physical Exam

The doctor or nurse will also check your child’s body.

To check your child’s body, the doctor or nurse will:

See what else the doctor may ask when your child is:

Make the Most of Your Baby’s Visit to the Doctor (Ages 0 to 11 Months)

The Basics

The Basics: Overview

Babies need to go to the doctor or nurse for a “well-baby visit” 6 times during their first year.

A well-baby visit is when you take your baby to the doctor for a full checkup to make sure he is healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

At a well-baby visit, the doctor or nurse can help catch any problems early, when they may be easier to treat. You will also have a chance to ask any questions you have about caring for your baby.

To make the most of your baby’s visit:

  • Gather important information
  • Make a list of questions for the doctor
  • Know what to expect from the visit

What about cost?

Under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, insurance plans must cover well-baby visits. Depending on your insurance plan, your baby may be able to get well-baby checkups at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to learn more.

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The Basics: Well-Baby Visits

How often do I need to take my baby for well-baby visits?

Babies need to see the doctor or nurse 6 times during their first year. Your baby is growing and changing quickly, so regular visits are important.

The first well-baby visit is 2 to 3 days after coming home from the hospital, when the baby is about 2 to 5 days old. After that first visit, babies need to see the doctor or nurse when they are:

  • 1 month old
  • 2 months old
  • 4 months old
  • 6 months old
  • 9 months old

If you are worried about your baby’s health, don’t wait until the next scheduled visit – call the doctor or nurse right away.

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The Basics: Child Development

How do I know if my baby is growing and developing on schedule?

Your baby’s doctor or nurse can help you identify “developmental milestones,” the new skills that children usually develop by a certain age. These include physical, mental, language, and social skills.

Each baby grows and develops differently. For example, some babies will crawl earlier than others.

At each visit, the doctor or nurse will look for some basic developmental milestones to see if your baby is developing on schedule. This is an important part of the well-baby visit.

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The Basics: 1 to 2 Months

By age 1 month, most babies:

  • Are gaining weight and growing
  • Have a strong sucking reflex
  • React to sounds
  • Move their arms and legs symmetrically (the same way on both sides)

By age 2 months, most babies:

  • Lift their head when lying on their stomach
  • Begin to look at close objects and people’s faces
  • Bring their hands to their mouth
  • Make cooing sounds
  • Smile at people

See a complete list of developmental milestones for kids age 2 months.

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The Basics: 4 to 6 Months

By age 4 months, most babies:

  • Roll over from their stomach to their back
  • Reach for, grab, and hold toys
  • Have different cries for different feelings (like hungry, cranky, or uncomfortable)
  • Start babbling
  • Recognize a parent’s voice or touch
  • Copy some facial expressions and sounds

See a complete list of developmental milestones for kids age 4 months.

By age 6 months, most babies:

  • Begin to sit without support
  • Roll over in both directions (from stomach to back and from back to stomach)
  • Start teething
  • Sleep for 6 to 8 hours a night without waking up
  • Respond to their own name
  • Show interest in and reach for objects
  • Begin to know if someone is a stranger
  • Like to look at themselves in a mirror

See a complete list of developmental milestones for kids age 6 months.

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The Basics: 9 Months

By age 9 months, most babies:

  • Crawl
  • Sit for a long time without support
  • Feed themselves with their fingers
  • Throw and shake toys
  • Have favorite toys
  • Understand the word “no”
  • Wave bye-bye
  • Play games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake

See a complete list of developmental milestones for kids age 9 months.

What if I’m worried about my baby’s development?

Remember, each baby develops a little differently. But if you are concerned about your child’s growth and development, talk to your baby’s doctor or nurse.

Learn more about newborn and infant development.

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Take Action!

Take Action: Get Ready

Take these steps to help you and your baby get the most out of well-baby visits.

Gather important information.

Take any medical records you have to the appointment, including a record of shots your baby has received and results from newborn screenings.

Make a list of any important changes in your baby’s life since the last doctor’s visit, like:

  • Being sick
  • Falling or getting injured
  • Starting daycare or getting a new caregiver

Use this tool to keep track of your baby’s family health history.

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Take Action: Ask Questions

Make a list of questions to ask the doctor.

Before the well-baby visit, write down 3 to 5 questions you have. Each well-baby visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions about:

  • How your baby is growing and developing
  • How your baby is sleeping
  • Breastfeeding your baby
  • When and how to start giving your baby solid foods
  • What changes and behaviors to expect in the coming months
  • How to make sure your home is safe for a growing baby

Here are some questions you may want to ask:

Take a notepad and write down the answers so you can remember them later.

Ask what to do if your baby gets sick.

Make sure you know how to get in touch with a doctor or nurse when the office is closed. Ask how to reach the doctor on call, or if there’s a nurse information service you can call at night or on the weekend.

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Take Action: What to Expect

Know what to expect.

During each well-baby visit, the doctor or nurse will ask you about your baby and do a physical exam. The doctor or nurse will then update your baby’s medical history with all of this information.

The doctor or nurse will ask questions about your baby.

The doctor or nurse may ask about:

  • Behavior – Does your baby copy your movements and sounds?
  • Health – How many diapers does your baby wet each day? Does your baby spend time around people who are smoking?
  • Safety – If you live in an older home, has it been inspected for lead? Do you have a safe car seat for your baby?
  • Activities – Does your baby try to roll over? How often do you read to your baby?
  • Eating habits – How often does your baby eat each day? How are you feeding your baby?
  • Family – Do you have any worries about being a parent? Who can you count on to help you take care of your baby?

Your answers to questions like these will help the doctor or nurse make sure your baby is healthy and developing normally.

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Take Action: Physical Exam

The doctor or nurse will also check your baby’s body.

To check your baby’s body, the doctor or nurse will:

  • Measure height, weight, and the size of your baby’s head
  • Take your baby’s temperature
  • Check your baby’s eyes and hearing
  • Check your child’s body parts (this is called a physical exam)
  • Give shots your child needs

Read more about what to expect at your baby’s well-baby visit.External Link: You are leaving healthfinder.gov

See what else the doctor may ask when your baby is:

Get Your Medicare Wellness Visit Every Year

The Basics

The Basics: Overview

If you have Medicare, be sure to schedule a yearly wellness visit with your doctor. A yearly wellness visit is a great way to help you stay healthy.

What happens during a yearly wellness visit?

The doctor or nurse will first ask you to fill out a questionnaire called a “health risk assessment.” Your answers will help you and the doctor or nurse get the most from your yearly wellness visit.

During your visit, the doctor or nurse will:

  • Go over your health risk assessment with you
  • Ask about your medical and family history
  • Measure your height and weight
  • Check your blood pressure
  • Ask about other doctors you see and any medicines you take
  • Give advice to help you prevent disease, improve your health, and stay well

The doctor or nurse will give you a short, written plan – like a checklist – to take home with you. This plan will include any screening tests and other preventive services that you will need over the next 5 to 10 years. Preventative services are health care services that keep you from getting sick.

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The Basics: Plan Your Visit

When can I go for a yearly wellness visit?

You can get a wellness visit when:

  • You’ve had Medicare Part B for more than 12 months.
  • It’s been at least 12 months since your last wellness visit.

Do I need to have a “Welcome to Medicare” visit first?

You don’t need to have a “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit before getting a yearly wellness visit.

If you choose to get the “Welcome to Medicare” visit during the first 12 months you have Medicare Part B, you’ll have to wait 12 months before you can get your first yearly wellness visit. Learn more about the “Welcome to Medicare” and yearly wellness visits.

What about cost?

With Medicare Part B, you can get a wellness visit once a year at no cost to you. Check to make sure the doctor or nurse accepts Medicare when you schedule your appointment.

If you get any tests or services that aren’t included in the yearly wellness visit (like an extra blood test), you may have to pay some of those costs.

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The Basics: Who Can Get Medicare?

Who can get Medicare coverage?

Medicare is a federal health insurance program. You may be able to get Medicare if you:

  • Are age 65 or older
  • Are under age 65 and have a disability
  • Have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Have end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure)

You must be living in the United States legally for at least 5 years to qualify for Medicare. Answer these questions to find out when you can sign up for Medicare.

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Take Action!

Take Action: Make an Appointment

Take these steps to help you get the most out of your Medicare yearly wellness visit.

Schedule your Medicare yearly wellness visit.

Call your doctor’s office and ask to schedule your Medicare yearly wellness visit. Make sure it’s been at least 12 months since your last wellness visit.

If you are looking for a new doctor, check out these tips on choosing a doctor you can trust.

To find a doctor who accepts Medicare:

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Take Action: Get Ready

Gather important information.

Take any medical records or information you have to the appointment. Include important information like:

  • Your name and birth date
  • The name and phone number of a friend or relative to call if there’s an emergency
  • Dates and results of checkups and screening tests
  • A list of shots (vaccines) you’ve received – and the dates you got them
  • Medicines you take, how much you take, and why you take them (including over-the-counter medicines and vitamins)
  • Phone numbers and addresses of other places you go for health care, including your pharmacy
  • Any health conditions you have, including allergies

Make a list of any important changes in your life or health.

Your doctor or nurse will want to know about any big changes since your last visit. For example, write down things like:

  • Losing your job
  • A death in the family
  • A serious illness or injury
  • Surgery
  • A change in your living situation

Know your family health history.

Your family’s health history is an important part of your personal health record. Use this family health history tool to keep track of conditions that run in your family. Take this information to your yearly wellness visit.

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Take Action: Ask Questions

Make a list of questions you want to ask the doctor.

This visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions about:

  • A health condition
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, or supplements

Some important questions include:

  • Do I need to get any shots to protect my health?
  • How can I get more physical activity?
  • Am I at a healthy weight?
  • Do I need to make any changes to my eating habits?

Use this question builder tool to make a list of things to ask your doctor or nurse.

Don’t forget to write down the answers so you remember them later. You may also want to take a friend or relative with you for support.

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Take Action: What to Expect

Know what to expect at your visit.

The doctor or nurse will ask you questions about your health and safety, like:

  • Do you have stairs in your home?
  • What do you do to stay active?
  • Have you lost interest in doing things you usually enjoy?
  • Do you have a hard time hearing people on the phone?
  • What medicines, vitamins, or supplements do you take regularly?

The doctor or nurse will also:

  • Measure your height and weight
  • Check your blood pressure
  • Ask about your medical and family history
  • Look for any changes in your ability to think, learn, or remember
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Take Action: Follow Up

Make a wellness plan with your doctor.

During the yearly wellness visit, the doctor or nurse will give you a short, written plan – like a checklist – to take home with you. This written plan will include a list of preventive services you will need over the next 5 to 10 years.

Your plan may include:

Follow up after your visit.

During your yearly wellness visit, the doctor or nurse may recommend that you see a specialist or get certain tests. Try to schedule these follow-up appointments before you leave your wellness visit.

If that’s not possible, put a reminder note on your calendar to schedule your follow-up appointments.

Add any new health information to your records.

Make your next wellness visit easier by updating your medical information right away. Write down any shots you get and the results of any screening tests.

Medicare offers an online tool called MyMedicare to help you track your personal health information and Medicare claims. If you have your Medicare number, you can sign up for your MyMedicare account now.

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Take Action: Healthy Habits

Take care of yourself all year long.

After your visit, follow the plan you made with your doctor or nurse to stay healthy. Your plan may include:

Choosing a Doctor: Quick tips

When you choose a primary care doctor for yourself or a loved one, make sure to choose a doctor you can trust. A primary care doctor can:

  • Help you stay healthy by recommending preventive services, like screening tests and shots
  • Treat many health problems
  • Refer you to a specialist when you need more help with a specific health issue

When you and your doctor work together as a team, you’ll get better health care. Look for a doctor who:

  • Treats you with respect
  • Listens to your opinions and concerns
  • Encourages you to ask questions
  • Explains things in ways you understand

Try the following tips to find a doctor who’s right for you.

Ask for recommendations from people you know.

Getting a reference from someone you know and trust is a great way to find a doctor.

  • Ask friends, family members, neighbors, or coworkers if they have a doctor they like.
  • If you are looking for a new doctor because yours is retiring or moving, ask your current doctor for a recommendation.

Check with your insurance company.

If you have health insurance, you may need to choose from a list of doctors in their network (doctors that take your insurance plan). Some insurance plans may let you choose a doctor outside the network if you pay more of the cost.

  • Call your insurance company and ask for a list of local doctors who take your insurance plan – or use the insurance company’s website to search for a doctor.
  • Once you have checked with your insurance company, call the doctor’s office, too. Ask them to confirm that they take your specific health insurance plan.

If you don’t have health insurance, you’ll have to pay for health care “out of pocket” (on your own). This can be very expensive. For help finding insurance, visit https://www.healthcare.gov/.

Learn more about your top choices.

Make a list of the doctors you have in mind. Call their offices to learn more about them. The answers to the following questions may help you make the best decision.

Questions about the doctor:

  • Is the doctor taking new patients?
  • Is the doctor part of a group practice? If so, who are the other doctors that might sometimes see or help treat you?
  • Who will see you if your doctor isn’t available?
  • Which hospital does the doctor use?
  • If you have a medical condition, does the doctor have experience treating it?
  • Does the doctor have special training or certifications?

Questions about the office:

  • Do they offer evening or weekend appointments?
  • What is the cancellation policy?
  • How long will it take to get an appointment?
  • How long do appointments usually last?
  • Can you get lab work and x-rays done in the office?
  • If you are more comfortable speaking in a language besides English, is there a doctor or nurse who speaks that language?

Think about your experience after the first visit.

Did the doctor and office staff…

  • Make you feel comfortable during your appointment?
  • Explain things in a way that was easy to understand?
  • Listen carefully to you?
  • Spend enough time with you?
  • Give you a chance to ask questions?

If you answer “no” to any of these questions, you may want to keep looking.