Physical Examination

A careful physical examination takes some time.

Your doctor or a nurse will measure how tall you are and what you weigh. Stand very still to make it faster!

Your doctor will check your eyes, your ears, and your mouth. He will take a special flashlight, called otoscope, with which he can see better. He can even carefully puff some air into your ear in order to see, if the eardrum moves correctly. It may tickle, but the better you hold still, the quicker it's over! When the doctor wants to get a good look of the inside of your throat, he needs to hold down your tounge with a small wooden stick. Then he can see your tonsils. You might feel a gag reflex, but nothing will happen!

Your doctor will check the lymph nodes in your body. These small, bean-shaped glands can be found throughout the body, especially on the sides of your neck, in your armpits and in your groins. When they are swollen, your doctor knows that they are at work. Lymph nodes are like little filters. They fight off sickness by removing germs which could harm you. Once their job is done, they will shrink to their normal seize.

Your doctor will have to listen to the sounds that the inside of your body makes. He will take an instrument, called stethoscope, with which these sounds will get much louder. The doctor will hear for example your heart beat, the air going in and out of your lungs, and the sounds your stomach makes. Breathe deeply and hold your breath when the doctor tells you to do so. This will help him hear a whole lot about how things are working inside your body. So be quiet and ask your questions before or after the examination!


Your doctor will have to examine your belly. This is called abdominal exam. It includes hearing with a stethoscope and palpating with the hands. When the doctor palpates your belly, he will first press lightly and later deeply, but he will not hurt you. He just needs to observe your reactions, for example if your muscles contract or if the release of pressure causes you pain. And he needs to feel the size of the organs inside your body, especially the liver and the spleen. So lie quiet while he is examining you and answer the questions he asks you!

Some tests giving information about your blood and the circulatory system (your "blood highways") can be made from outside: A nurse will check your pulse and your blood pressure.

  • The pulse shows how often your heart is beating to move your blood through the body. You can feel these heartbeats as little thumps even in places which are far away from your heart, for example in the arteries in your wrists.
  • The blood pressure shows how strong your heart is beating to push the blood through your body. The nurse will put a band around your upper arm and pump it up with air. This will squish your arm as much as your heart squishes the blood, so you can feel how strong your heart is. However, it won't hurt!