When should I take my child to a doctor for a check-up?
(Health checks for your baby are very important, as this is when a doctor monitors how your child is growing and to check whether any conditions are present so that treatment can be arranged. Children’s health and development should be checked at:
Maternity health services will usually support you with breastfeeding, adjusting to be a parent and caring for your baby.
1 to 4 weeks
Visit your doctor to get advice on feeding, becoming a parent and how to help your baby grow and develop healthily.
6 to 8 weeks
Your doctor will check and discuss your child’s hearing, vision, development, height, weight and head circumference growth.
Babies should receive their four-month immunisations now.
6 to 9 months
Babies should receive their 6 months immunisations. Doctors can also check their weight, height, hearing, vision and oral health. This is also a time to discuss family health and wellbeing, being sun smart, how to avoid injuries, poisons information, how to develop and improve communication, language and play.
Your baby should now receive their 12-month immunisations. You may also discuss development and any other health or parenting concerns.
Child health checks should then occur at:
- 18 months – for routine immunisations
- 2 years
- 3 years
- 4 years – for routine immunisations
This is what we would recommend as a minimum. However, if your child has any particular health issues then you may need to make more regular visits.
Cough, Cold and Ear Infection
Conjunctivitis, commonly referred to as pinkeye, is a common condition affecting one or both eyes. It is characterized by inflammation of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane covering the white of the eyes and the inner surface of the eyelids. Conjunctivitis may resolve on its own but sometimes requires treatment. It does not cause any permanent eye or vision changes.
Conjunctivitis most often results from a viral infection. Other causes include bacteria, allergy to dust or pollen, exposure to irritants such as smoke, dirt or certain shampoos, as well as prolonged use of contact lenses. Infectious conjunctivitis is highly contagious so precautions should be taken to avoid spreading the condition to others.
Signs and Symptoms
Common symptoms of conjunctivitis include redness of the eyes and pain with swelling of the eyelids. There may also be excessive tear flow and thick yellow-coloured discharge from the eyes. The eyelids may become sticky with crust formation noticed especially on arising from sleep. You may also experience itchiness, blurry vision and increased sensitivity to light.
Your doctor will diagnose conjunctivitis based on your symptoms and a physical examination of the eyes. Fluid discharge may be obtained with a swab of the conjunctiva and sent to the laboratory for analysis. This helps your doctor find out the type of infection to decide on the appropriate treatment.
The treatment for conjunctivitis depends on its cause.
- Viral conjunctivitis does not usually require treatment and symptoms should fade in about 2-3 weeks as the infection resolves. Antiviral medications may be prescribed.
- In cases of bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe antibiotic medications in the form of eye-drops or ointment.
- Warm compresses applied over the eye may help soothe your symptoms if you have viral or bacterial conjunctivitis.
- Allergic conjunctivitis responds to anti-allergic medicines such as antihistamines, steroids, ant-inflammatory drugs and decongestants. Cool compresses may also be helpful. Avoiding the substance that causes your allergic symptoms whenever possible is often the best solution to preventing allergic conjunctivitis.
Maintaining good hygiene helps prevent the spread of conjunctivitis. Wash your hands often and do not touch or rub your eyes. Avoid sharing towels or eye cosmetics. Change the pillow covers and bed linens frequently. If you use contact lenses, handle them carefully and follow a proper cleaning regimen.
Immunisation for your Child
Regular Health Checks (Wellness Exam)
What is a Wellness Exam?
A wellness exam is an annual physical exam and involves routine tests usually performed once a year to check your overall health status. The type of tests ordered depends on your age, sex, diet, exercise, smoking habit, consumption of alcohol and current health condition.
Preparing for your Wellness Exam
Your healthcare provider will assess your symptoms and take your medical or surgical history. He/she will discuss the medicines you are taking and those you should stop taking prior to the tests. Inform your healthcare provider if you are allergic to any medicines or anaesthesia or have an implanted device such as a pacemaker.
Your healthcare provider makes a note of your physical appearances such as height, weight, and any deformity or unusual growth on your body. Vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration rate will be checked. Your eyes, nose, throat, teeth, and lymph nodes on the side of the neck may be examined. Your doctor will listen to your heart and lungs to detect any abnormalities and asses your skin and extremities for any problems. Other systems may be assessed depending on the patient’s condition and history. Talk to your doctor about any health concerns you are having so they can address them during your exam.
- Complete Blood Count: It measures several components of blood to evaluate your overall health and can help to diagnose anaemia, infections or certain disorders.
- Urine Test: These tests are performed to look for certain nutrients, hormones, blood cells or microorganisms in the urine.
- Cholesterol Screening: This test detects high levels of cholesterol in the blood that can lead to atherosclerosis, where cholesterol builds up in the artery walls causing heart disease.
- Thyroid Function Test: It involves a series of blood tests to check how well your thyroid gland is working.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): An electrocardiogram is a diagnostic tool to measure and record the electrical activity of the heart to assess its functionality.
- Metabolic Stress Test: Metabolic stress testing is a screening tool used to evaluate cardiopulmonary function.
- Pulmonary Function Test: Also called spirometry or lung function test, it measures your ability to breathe and how efficiently gas is exchanged between your lungs and the rest of your body. Various lung conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, lung infections, emphysema, allergies, and lung cancer can be diagnosed by pulmonary function testing.
- Liver Function Test: This test determines the health of your liver, gallbladder and bile ducts.
- Imaging Tests: Imaging techniques such as X-ray, CT-scan or MRI help your doctor to view images of the internal structures of the body.
- Bone Density: A bone density test is performed in all postmenopausal women with fractures. Women under the age of 65, depending on their risk factors, should be screened for osteoporosis.
Patients between the ages of 50 and 75 need to be screened for colon cancer. A stool test is recommended every year. Flexible sigmoidoscopy and barium enema are recommended every 5 years and a colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years. Additional studies may be scheduled by your doctor if you have a history of ulcerative colitis or any family history of colon cancer.
Male Wellness Exam
Wellness exams for men include an examination of:
Groin Area: Your healthcare provider will examine the area around the groin and testicles to check for signs of a hernia. Your doctor will instruct you to cough while checking for a bulge.
Testis: Your healthcare provider will check for lumps, tenderness or a change in the shape of the testicles.
Penis: Your doctor will check for the presence of ulcers or warts to assess for signs of any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Prostate: A gloved, lubricated finger is inserted into the rectum to feel for any lumps or enlargement of the prostate.
Female Wellness Exam
Wellness exams for women include an examination of:
Breasts: Women should perform a monthly self-exam of their breasts. Any lumps or other abnormalities noted in the breasts should immediately be reported to the doctor. Women between the ages of 20 to 40 need to have their breasts examined by a doctor once every 3 years, and a complete breast exam is recommended every year in women aged 40 and above. Depending on their risk factors for breast cancer, women over the age of 40 need to have a mammogram performed every 1 to 2 years.
Pelvis: Screening will begin within 3 years after the first vaginal intercourse or by the age of 21. After the age of 21, women should have both a Pap smear and a pelvic exam performed every 2 years to check for cervical cancer. Women over age 30 or whose Pap smears have been negative three times in a row may only need a Pap smear once every 3 years. Sexually active women should be screened for sexually transmitted diseases.
Anxiety in Children
Asthma in Children
Air is supplied to the lungs for purification through narrow tubes. When these tubes get inflamed and narrowed, it leads to a chronic condition called asthma. With children spending more time indoors, and increased exposure to pollution, dust and second hand smoke, there is an increased rate of childhood asthma. Asthma can be triggered by allergens (pollen, mould and fur), cold air and changes in weather, exercise, flu and common cold.
Asthma in Children
Asthma in children is characterized by frequent spells of coughing, reduced energy, weakness or tiredness during play, rapid breathing, shortness or loss of breath, chest tightness or pain, wheezing (whistling sound when breathing), and tightened neck and chest muscles. When you present to the clinic with these symptoms, the doctor evaluates your child’s medical history, performs a thorough physical examination, and may order a chest X-ray, blood tests or allergy skin tests to confirm the diagnosis. A lung-function test called spirometry may also be performed to measure the amount of air in the lungs and the rate at which it is exhaled.
Asthma is primarily managed with medication and by avoiding triggers that bring on symptoms. Medication may include long-term control medicines that should be taken on a daily basis seasonally, and short-acting bronchodilators that act as a rescue medication for immediate relief. Asthma medication is delivered through a metered dose inhaler, dry powder inhaler or a nebulizer, which converts liquid medicine into a fine mist for your child to inhale. You and your child will be taught how to use them correctly to ensure a consistent dosage. Your child’s doctor may recommend allergy-desensitization shots given at regular intervals to control asthma triggered by allergens. There is no cure for asthma, only constant management in collaboration with your child’s doctor.
Bet Wetting (Nocturnal Enuresis)