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Examining a Patient from Head to Toe: Techniques for Proper Patient Evaluation.

Apr 25, 2023 | 0 comments

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Apr 25, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

Head to toe assessment is very crucial in health care as it aid in saving time. Examining patients for symptoms narrows down possible diseases that they may be suffering from for easier laboratory tests as well as faster results and treatment since there are very many diseases that affect people and testing all of them takes time. Assessing the condition of various systems of the body requires various skills such as palpation and inspection.

In examining a patient, one needs to begin with the most vital sighs which are temperature, pain, blood pressure, respiratory and pulse. A patient’s temperature is felt if above or below normal by touching the forehead. If the temperature is high then the patients could be suffering from malaria or fever. The nurse can feel the pulse of the patient by touching his/her wrist to determine the pulse rate. Pain can be felt by using a sharp and then a dull object to prick the patient around the area they claim to be feeling pain. The diagnosis of pain depend on the part that is painful since there are pain resulting from external injuries like falling but there are others from internal injury like abdominal pain. The efficiency of respiratory systems can be examined by listening to the breathing sounds. The individual should be able to breath with ease without struggle with any undesirable sound. Otherwise if the individual’s breathing is heavy with loud sound and appears to be straining then the patient may be suffering from either cold or asthma or heart disease explicated by Morris (2007).


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The Neurological System

The neurological system is composed of the head eyes, ears and nose.


It is determined if the patient is alert by asking them their name, where they are or come from, and whether they are aware of what they doing and what is going on around them. A normal patient’s response to these questions would be positive otherwise it would be an indication of unconsciousness resulting from brain damage that may be caused by caused by some diseases like acute malaria which results to memory loss. The condition of the hair and skull is also assessed by checking whether hair is uniformly distribute and whether there is severe hair loss which could be an indication of acute cancer infection. A normal skull is smooth thus if the skull is swollen then that would be an indication of head injury. For instance, if the skull is covered in ringworms especially for children under the age of ten then, is an indication of infestation of the body by worms as implied by Morris, J. F. (2007).


The eyes can be examined by exposing the individual to light and observing their reactions. This helps to determine the senility of the eyes to light. Inspect the pupil and the eyeball through observation.


The patient’s level of hearing ability can be examined by whispering. Under normal circumstance the patient will hear without straining. However, if the patient hears only when shouted at then the patient has hearing problems. Ask the patient for any pain in the ear since it could be as a result an internal ear swelling which is dangerous as advised by Morris (2007).


The patient is checked for sense of smell by exposing them to particular smell and asking them if they smell anything. Difficulty in breathing is determined from observation. Normal patients breath with ease while struggle in breathing would indicate abnormality in the respiratory system sometimes caused by common cold. Patients with breathing problem are advised to keep themselves warm in accordance with Morris (2007).

Throat and Mouth

The mouth and throat are inspected by requesting the patient to open his/her mouth. The teeth are then checked cavity or pain. A patient should not have any cavity otherwise a patient with cavity may be suffering from teeth decay that is majorly caused by too much intake of sugar hence advised to stop. The patient releasing odor from the mouth apparently may have forgotten his/her personal hygiene and needs to be reminded. The tongue, throat and lymph glands should not be swollen as indicated by Morris (2007).


The condition of the skin can be determined by inspecting the skin. The normal skin is supposed to be glossy therefore if it is pale and dry then the patient may be suffering from diseases that are related to inadequate body fluids. Check whether there are swellings, boils or rushes. Availability of rushes or swellings could be caused by diseases such as smallpox or too much sweat in cases of infants. The skin is supposed to be flexible thus it is important to pinch it then observe whether it goes back to normal state within two seconds otherwise would be unhealthy as explained by Tsasis & Bains (2008).


The limbs (hands and legs)

The hands, fingers, legs and toes are inspected for any injury. The patient is asked if there any joint or general pain in the hands and legs. The patient can be asked to lift their arms, or walk to determine the working conditions of the arms and legs. A person not in a position not walk could be paralyzed either permanently or temporary depending on the cause.

Genetarial assessment

Assessing the condition of the bladder by asking questions concerning the frequency of urinating is also essential. Frequent urination that does not match the frequency of fluids intake indicate abnormality of the kidney or the bladder. Abnormal color of urine could indicate infection of diseases such as syphilis.

The abdomen

The abdomen is inspected by asking the patient the type of pain they are feeling, whether it is sharp and piecing or constant mild pains to determine its cause. Assess nutrition intake, vomiting or nausea by asking and listen to bowel sounds as it helps in determining the cause stomach pain in case of any.

Age specific risk health deduction and immunization

Some diseases are common to children under the age of ten like polio that causes penalization if not dealt with and measles. The impact of these diseases can only be minimized by immunizations at an early age. However, in the case of adults most of the diseases affecting them could easily be prevented by being vigilant concerning their health and taking the required precautions like observing personal and environmental hygiene as implied by Tsasis & Bains (2008).

The treatment of the different diseases affecting the body system is facilitated by both the physician and the patient since the patient ought to follow physicians’ instructions and complete the prescription which is often very difficult for the patient. Disobedience has often led to recurrence of these diseases and made their control difficult. Therefore, physicians ought to follow up progress of patients even after being discharged and educate the public on the importance of following medical advices to the latter as recommended by Tsasis & Bains (2008).


Morris, J. F. (2007). Medicine, Health Care, & Ethics: Catholic Voices. Washington: Catholic U of America P. Publishers.

Tsasis, P., & Bains, J. (2008). Management of complex chronic disease: facing the challenges in the Canadian health-care system. Health Services Management Research. doi:10.1258/hsmr.2008.008001

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