“You’re going to the doctor,” your mum tells you. But why go to the doctor when you’re not sick?
Regular checkups are a smart idea. It’s a chance for the doctor to see that you’re growing and developing normally. It’s also a chance for your parents to talk with the doctor about any issues, such as safety or nutrition, so they can help you stay healthy.
When you meet the doctor, he or she will ask you some questions, like how you’re doing and if you have any problems or concerns. The doctor wants to make sure your body is working just like it should. To do this, he or she will use equipment, such as:
- a stethoscope (to listen to your lungs and heart)
- an otoscope (to look inside your ears, nose, and throat)
- an ophthalmoscope (to look inside your eyes).
Your doctor might check the reflexes in your knee with a rubber hammer. He or she also will probably feel around your belly, look at your genitals (private parts), and examine your spine.
You may wonder why do doctors do this stuff? Here’s why:
- Listening with a stethoscope lets the doctor hear your heartbeat and the way your lungs sound. Doctors know just how healthy hearts and lungs should sound. If yours doesn’t sound quite right, the doctor will want to investigate further.
- Looking in your ears, nose and throat with an otoscope lets the doctor get a good look at yours and the light helps spot any problems, like fluid in your ear that could be an infection.
- Looking in your eyes with an ophthalmoscope lets the doctor see the retina, the light-sensitive part of your eye that sends messages to the brain. Though the doctor is shining a light in your eye, try to keep your eye still so the doctor can get a good look.
- Bopping you with the rubber hammer lets the doctor test how well your nerves are carrying messages in your body. When your reflexes respond to the hammer, the doctor knows your nerves can do the important job they have — carrying messages from the brain and spinal cord that tell your body what to do.
- Feeling around your belly – there’s a lot of important stuff in your belly, from your stomach to your intestines and liver. Doctors know how healthy bellies should feel and they want to make sure yours feels just right.
- Spine check – your spinal column is a series of bones along the middle of your back. The spine should be straight. But sometimes, a kid’s spine has a curve and some curves are called scoliosis. Small curves usually cause no problems, but for larger curves you may need to get an X-ray or see an orthopedic doctor who specialises in the treatment of scoliosis.
Things to look out for at the GP’s surgery:
- a bed
- Weight scales
- Tongue Depressors
Images courtesy of the Wellcome Trust