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Most Important Questions to Ask the Doctor When Your Child is Ill

Posted by Johnson Memorial Health on Jul 1, 2016

When your child is sick, you want to do everything you can to make them feel better. If you have tried giving your child rest and other at home treatments, you may discover that you need more advice. If you decide the illness warrants a trip to the doctor, you want to use your time and the doctor's time wisely, but you also want to find out as much information as you can.


These tips can help save time and ensure that you get all the information you need to get your child on the road to recovery.

Johnson Memorial Health Pediatric Specialists are committed to comprehensive medical from infants to adolescents.

Before Your Visit

Making a list will help you keep focused during the appointment, and the list will help you remember all the details. Sometimes leaving out one detail can make it harder to diagnose the problem. Before you call the doctor, make a list of the symptoms your child is showing, so that you can use the list during the appointment.  Keep note of how long your child has been sick and if he/she has a fever. Write down anything you think might be related to the illness. The more you know about your child's symptoms, the easier it will be for the doctor to diagnose the illness. 

You can also jot down some questions and concerns that you may have beforehand. If you child is old enough, go through some of the questions on your list with them so they know what is going on and understand the questions too. Likely, an older child may have questions or concerns of their own. The thought of a doctor's visit can be intimidating for some children, so try to ease those thoughts beforehand. The ultimate goal is for your child to get well.

During Your Visit

Share your list with the doctor so that you know that you are all on the same page. The doctor will likely ask you a lot of questions about symptoms too. Once you talk about symptoms, the doctor will likely do an exam of some sort. Then she will put together the symptoms and her exam and offer some sort of diagnosis or state need for further testing.

Take notes on what the doctor says so that you will not forget when you get home.  If you need things repeated, just ask. Your doctor wants you to understand the diagnosis and treatment options.

You will want to make sure that you understand the illness and treatment options. Some important questions to ask the doctor are:

  • What are the possible treatments and why are those recommended?
  • Are there alternatives?
  • Is there a less expensive prescription or one on the $4 list that will work just as effectively?
  • What are the side effects of the treatment?
  • How long should these symptoms last?
  • What other symptoms will we see as this illness progresses?
  • Will we need a follow-up appointment?

If your child is very sick and has a serious illness, you may have even more questions such as:

  • How long will my child stay in the hospital?
  • Should we go to a children's hospital?
  • Do we need to see a specialist?
  • What does this mean long term?
  • Do we need to get further testing, blood work, or x-rays?

After Your Visit

After your visit, you can begin treating the illness and be on the road to recovery. If your child has some reservations about medicines or treatments, try to explain to the best of your ability. Sometimes medical treatments, such as a nebulizer or inhaler, can be scary for children. If they have a better understanding of how they work and why they are needed, they might not seem so intimidating. 

Take all medications as directed by the doctor, and don't be afraid to call and ask any questions should they arise. You can also call the pharmacy. The pharmacist can answer questions related to the medications, but the doctor or nurse would be better suited for other questions.

If your child's illness warrants a follow-up appointment, prepare for that visit in the same way. Take notes as you treat the illness at home so that you can share the progression with the doctor during that follow up visit.

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Topics: Urgent Care, Pediatrics