As a parent it is your responsibility to keep track of your child’s health. Being proactive is a healthy habit so that you can establish a happy, healthy and long life later. Getting health checkups regularly, increases the chances of preventing health issues in later stages of your child’s life. Although your pediatrician will inform you about these tests, it is better to keep yourself educated about some of the important ones.
What is a health check up?
Our chances of getting a variety of illnesses raise as we age. This risk can be reduced with proper health checkups. A health check up is the examination of the current status of your health which is usually performed by a general practitioner (GP). Undergoing variety of tests at relevant times ensures you are in good health. Some of these tests can be little uncomfortable, but are essential for your physician to understand the risk factors.
What happens with a health check?
A health check up generally
- is an update to your medical history and examines your health issues
- may be a follow-up visit for the previously identified problems in you or your child
- can be an advice on how to enhance your health
- may involve performing tests if required
A wide variety of health checks may be needed by your child. The most important among them include the following:
1) Teeth check up
Don’t just rejoice at the first appearance of your child’s teeth. The first dental check up needs to be done after 6 months of the emergence of teeth in your child. This is carried out by a dentist who checks the oral health of your child. Your child’s teeth, gums, and mouth are checked thoroughly, and cleaning of the teeth may be done if necessary. The dentist may ask if your child has any problems with teeth or gums at present or in the past.
After the check up, the time after which your child needs another check up will be given by the dentist. It can be as early as within 3 months or as late as after a year or two which usually depends on your child’s risk for dental problems such as tooth decay. Along with this, the pediatric dentist may provide you instructions on oral care strategies for your child.
Even if your child’s teeth is healthy enough, you should still get them evaluated because changes in the oral habits and diet can make them vulnerable to a rapid decay and misalignment.
2) Eye examination
Children may have common eye problems such as nearsightedness or farsightedness or blurred vision etc. You may be wondering whether your preschooler is having any problems and if you need to take him/her for a checkup. You may not be sure when to take this action right? The answer is, it needs to be started at the age of 5 years of your child even in the absence of any eye problems. This avoids the vision problems in future which may impact your child’s performance.
The eye tests performed by the doctor are based on the age of your child. But the general examination involves a basic eye testing which includes reading the charts and retinoscopy (a reflection of light). The physician may ask if your child used glasses or contact lenses in the past, or if there is a family history of eye problems, etc. You should tell your child’s doctor if your child displays actions such as frequent rubbing of eyes, excessive blinking, a history of pre-maturity, inability to maintain eye contact or eye fixation, poor eye tracking ability, etc.
3) Height and weight measurements
The health and development of a child can be estimated to a major extent from his/her BMI (body mass index). BMI is calculated from the height and weight of a person. The weight should be corresponding to their height. Any deviation can lead to physical illness.
4) Childhood immunization schedules
Immunization offers protection against infectious and contagious diseases. Vaccines are given in the form of courses at regular intervals starting from one month after a child’s birth. For children below 12 years, these vaccines include DTP, polio, hepatitis A and B, varicella, HPV, certain flu vaccines and more. Booster doses will be given in the later ages. So, it is important that parents should be up-to-date in getting their children immunized at relevant ages and as recommended. The schedule should be cross checked with the doctor during the other regular checkups with the pediatrician.
5) Blood pressure and cholesterol levels
Yes! You may be surprised to see that these are not only adult diseases but can be present in children and should not be ignored. Children are also at risk for cardiovascular problems. Therefore, children aged between 9 to 11 years should be screened for any abnormalities in these values.
It is wise to avoid a disease instead of treating it. Health check up can help to identify, or prevent or alleviate health issues. Initial treatment is easier and highly effective compared to treating in the later stages. Make it a practice to take your child for regular check ups to keep his/her medical history stagnant and their health status up-to-date. Discuss your concerns about your child’s health with the doctor during these visits.