Doctors recommend you start getting involved in your medical care around age 14. Of course it helps to know what you're doing! Test your knowledge by taking our mini quiz. And if you don't ace it, don't worry. We have plenty of information to help you out.
Answer: False. Parents don't always have access to their kids' medical records.
If you need a parent's help with medical care after age 18. In the United States, the law protects the privacy of medical records for everyone over age 18. (The age is 16 or younger for mental health records, depending on the state.) If you want parents to help with your care, you'll need to sign a document that gives them access to your records.
If you are younger than 18 but want certain information kept private. Many states now allow doctors to decide whether or not they disclose certain information to parents — about sexual health or substance abuse, for example. If you want your records kept private, talk to your doctor to see what can be done.
Answer: False. You don't stop getting sick just because you're 18. (Think flu shot!)
If you're going to college. Serious illnesses — like meningitis — can spread easily in dorms and other college settings. So many schools require students to be immunized. Check with your school about which vaccines you need.
If you're traveling abroad. You may need protection against illnesses that are rare or nonexistent in the United States, like malaria. Call your doctor or student health center to find out what vaccines you need.
If you have other health issues. Vaccines can help people with weakened immune systems. If you have a health condition (e.g., HIV, cancer, or asthma that requires you to take steroids), ask your doc which vaccines you need.
Answer: True. Using someone else's prescription can cause problems, even if the other person takes the exact same medication and dose as you do.
If you take a medication that requires close monitoring. Doctors need to keep track of how people take some medications, and they can't do that if a patient takes someone else's prescription. Medications may look the same, but they can work differently. For example, a friend's pills may be time-release pills but yours are not. So call your doctor's office instead of a friend if you run out of (or don't have) your medication. Even if it's an emergency, your doctor's office can usually fix things for you.
If your medical history has changed. Medications can interact with each other. Even herbal remedies or over-the-counter medicines may cause side effects or reduce the effectiveness of a prescription. You might not think your medical history has changed, but your doctor will know if something you might have started doing recently will affect your prescription. It's one reason why doctors ask so many questions!
Answer: False. Accidents can happen to anyone. Make sure you're covered!
If you have an emergency. Every day, thousands of perfectly healthy people break bones, need stitches, get into car crashes, or find out they have illnesses. Medical bills from even a minor car accident can wreak havoc on your finances. It's always better to buy insurance, even if you get the least expensive option that only covers major medical expenses.
Answer: True. The body can reject blood if it is the wrong type.
If you need a transfusion. In an emergency, seconds count. The blood bank will test your blood before giving you a transfusion, but it helps to know your type anyway. If you don't know your blood type, find out from your parents or doctor. Keep that information on an emergency card in your wallet, or put it in your phone. It's also a good idea to keep information about allergies and other medical issues where it can be found easily, like a medical alert bracelet or your wallet.
Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: February 2011
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