Back to school is just around the corner, and parents are rushing to make sure their kids are prepared and ready. School supplies and new uniforms are on everyone’s shopping list, no doubt, but is a back-to-school physical part of all the preparations?
Back-to-school physicals aren’t always a top priority for parents, but they should be. And doctors recommend them.
They can help to ensure not only that your kids are in optimal health, but also that they are able to follow what’s going on in class.
What Should Be Included in a Back-to-School Physical?
No matter your child’s age, the following examinations should include:
- Hearing and Vision: Children can lose focus, disengage and get distracted when they can’t follow what is going on in class. Sometimes this is caused simply by not being able to see or hear properly.
Hearing tests are usually performed at birth, before your child leaves the nursery. But it’s recommended that children have another hearing test before they start school, at around age 3-5 years, or whenever you think there may be a problem.
A vision test is done to ensure your child can see what is being written on the board. Upon entering school, every 2 years during school age or when a problem is suspected, children should have an eye screening for visual acuity and alignment. Short-sightedness (myopia) is the most common refractive error in this age group. If you suspect your child has an alignment or other eye health issue, take them in for a comprehensive eye examination so that they don’t fall behind in class.
- Heart Health: In children, high blood pressure (hypertension) is usually the result of genetics, lifestyle factors, an underlying disease (such as diabetes), or even a side-effect of medication. Doctors recommended that children get their blood pressure checked annually starting at the age of 3. Parents should also promote eating healthily and being physically active.
Untreated hypertension can cause serious health risks, as it forces the heart to work much harder than it should; it could lead to artery, heart, and kidney damage down the line.
- Height and Weight Assessment: Your child’s growth depends on many factors, including genetics, metabolism, hormones, and nutrition. A height assessment will determine if your child is growing at normal rate for his or her age group. A weight assessment is done to assure your child is at healthy weight for their height and age range.
Additionally, you can use this opportunity to ask the doctor about immunizations to protect your child from contracting various diseases.
A Bit about Nutrition and Eating Disorders
A healthy breakfast gets your child ready for the day and helps ensure they are energized to give their best. Eating breakfast positively affects cognitive performance, in other words, attention, memory, perception, and mood. This will help your kids stay focused and attentive all day during class.
But apart from a healthy, balanced diet, parents should also be aware of eating disorders children may face. Eating disorders are often incorrectly thought of as lifestyle choices, but in fact they are serious illnesses. Eating disorders include: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating.
Anorexia is the eating disorder in which a child sees themselves as overweight, causing them the desire to be thin and thus starving themselves as a result. Bulimia is the eating disorder in which a child will overeat and purge right after in order to prevent weight gain. And binge eating is when a child eats uncontrollably.
It’s believed that eating disorders are the result of biological, behavioral, and social factors combined. Make sure to talk to your kids about body image and the dangers of eating disorders, as they could lead to serious health issues in the future — such as malnutrition, cardiac disorders, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Doctors Encourage Back-to-School Physicals
Don’t wait when taking your children in for their back-to-school physicals. Ideally, you should take your kids in to see the doctor a few weeks before school begins. This leaves you time to deal with any present health issues they may be facing.
The Children’s (Pediatrics) Center at Bumrungrad International Hospital offers comprehensive health services for children by pediatric specialists in a variety of specialties.
By Children’s Center, Bumrungrad International Hospital
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