A common misconception about the doctor’s office is that patients should only visit when they’re sick. For children especially, this is not the case. Yearly checkups are key when it comes to helping your child lead the healthiest life possible. Even if they appear to be the epitome of excellent health, establishing a baseline for their primary physician will help catch any ailments or abnormalities in the future. Haven’t taken your child to an annual checkup before? Here’s what you need to know when scheduling your child’s first yearly physical.
What to Expect at an Annual Wellness Check
What’s included in a physical will depend on a few different factors. Your child’s age and medical history influence the examination, but most appointments may include:
1. Height and weight measurements
Taking height and weight measurements will help your child’s physician calculate their body mass index (BMI). The BMI is used to determine whether or not your child is healthy in comparison to a normal growth curve. Usually, the physician will provide percentile information for their height, weight, and head circumference to demonstrate how your child is developing compared to children of their age group.
2. Vision and hearing screenings
Conducting an annual vision screening will help determine if your child needs any corrective lenses or assistive devices. If your child already wears glasses or contacts, this screening will ensure that their prescription remains up-to-date. Auditory screenings will monitor similar development with hearing. In addition, checking the ears can help catch any excessive earwax, perforated eardrums, or infections.
3. Nose, throat and mouth screenings
Nose screenings can identify septum deformities or unusual polyps. Looking at the tonsils, tongue and back of throat will help monitor for signs of infections, abnormal growths, and check for signs of dehydration.
4. Blood pressure, heart rate, and other vital functions
A nurse or medical assistant usually takes note of your child’s vital signs prior to their meeting with the doctor. This typically includes them wearing a plastic device on their finger which measures temperature, oxygen level and heart rate. These measurements will signal whether your child is within a normal range and will help determine any deviations in their health.
5. Review of growth milestones
Depending on your child’s age, there are certain growth milestones expected in typically developing children. Your physician will have a list of these baselines and will review how your child is progressing in relation to where the target markers are.
6. Discussion of daily habits and mental health
The doctor will ask a few questions regarding your child’s eating, sleeping and exercise habits to make sure that they’re meeting healthy markers. In addition to their physical habits, the physician will check in on their mental and emotional wellbeing to determine the progress of their cognitive development.
7. Ensuring your child is up-to-date on vaccinations and immunizations
Lastly, a physical wellness check is the perfect opportunity to make sure your child is caught up on all required or recommended immunizations. This step is crucial in protecting them from several serious childhood illnesses and diseases.
How Can I Prepare?
Once you’ve set up your child’s first annual wellness check appointment, be sure to bring or provide information about medication, vaccination, and family history. It’s also useful to mention any surgical procedures, radiology studies, and allergies. Finally, always bring questions that you or your child may have. Remember, keeping these appointments once a year will help your child stay healthy and happy!
CHI Memorial Pediatric Diagnostic Associates offers three convenient locations in Chattanooga and north Georgia. To schedule an appointment for your child’s annual wellness exam or sports physical, call 423.698.2229.