A pediatrician consultation is the best time to ask health-related questions about your child. Here are ten medical questions you should ask the pediatrician to take good care of your little one.
By Aarthi Arun and Arun Sharma
As a parent, you may have many health-related questions to ask your child's pediatrician. And, why not? Taking care of your child's runny nose, fever or diarrhoea not only takes a toll on you but also makes you doubt your child's health.
However, the consultation with your child's pediatrician may get over without you getting the time to ask health questions about your child. Also, it is common for parents to feel hesitant or apprehensive about raising too many queries. And, at times, parents may even forget the questions they want to ask the pediatrician.
But, it is important to get answers to all your medical questions to feel reassured. To help you, we have put together a list of 10 health-related questions to ask your child's pediatrician.
Apart from the health-related questions to ask the pediatrician, we also explain why it is important to consult a child specialist instead of the family doctor, and the importance of a well-child visit. In addition, we offer you some tips on how to prepare your child for the pediatric doctor visit.
Q1. How should I keep my child comfortable when he runs a high temperature?
There is nothing that shoots up your blood pressure like your child's rising body temperature. But, high fever is usually not a cause for concern unless your child is a newborn, an infant or a toddler, or has some other worrying symptoms too. So, instead of obsessively taking the temperature, ask the pediatrician for suggestions on how to keep your child comfortable. Doing things like dressing him in light clothing or bathing in lukewarm water can help reduce temperature.
Q2. What are the various treatment options for my child's illness?
Whether it is the common cold or some serious infection, treatment options can be many. So, don't shy away from asking questions and offering suggestions – you know your child best. Are antibiotics necessary for my newborn? My kid is allergic to so-and-so drug; will the treatment be suitable? My toddler was very uncomfortable while taking the same medicine last time, are there any alternatives? These are some of the questions you can ask. When both you and the pediatric doctor work as a team, it eases the decision-making process. The child specialist will be able to prescribe treatments that suit your child and family better. Also, try to ensure that you get answers to all your baby health questions or toddler health questions prior to leaving. This way, you'll be ready to handle any adverse situation that may arise later at home.
Q3. Does the treatment have any side effects?
This is one of the most important questions to ask the pediatrician. From rashes to diarrhoea, your newborn or toddler's medicines may cause some unpleasant side effects. So, prior knowledge of adverse effects will make you better equipped to handle them effectively. It will also save you from disturbing your child's pediatrician with an unnecessary late-night call.
Q4. Should I bring my child back once we finish the medication?
Many of us don't bother to take our child back to the pediatrician, once the medicine gets over. Some of us even abruptly stop the medicine once our child begins to feel well. This isn't the right thing to do. An illness or infection should be treated thoroughly to prevent any relapse. Finishing the full course of the medication will help your child build immunity against the illness.
Q5. Can I use home remedies?
This is a common pediatric question most parents ask the pediatrician as they do not prefer putting their children on medication for simple illnesses.There is nothing wrong with treating common ailments like a cough or a headache with grandma's remedies; but, it is extremely important to understand that not all natural remedies are safe. Some home remedies may also interact in an adverse manner with the medicine your child is taking. And, since children are more sensitive, prescribing medication for them should be left to child specialists to handle. A wise step is to check with the pediatric doctor before trying anything on your own.
Q6. According to the Internet, the symptoms point to a particular disease. Should I be worried?
We all are great fans of Dr Google. But, relying on the Internet can also lead to wrong conclusions; you may misdiagnose a common cold as cancer. However, you shouldn't hide your doubts from your child’s doctor, who is probably aware of your Sherlock Holmes-like investigation skills. Feel free to discuss any health-related questions with the pediatrician. Remember, only a trained child specialist with a vast, real-life experience can decode your child's symptoms and come up with the right diagnosis.
Q7. I don't understand. Can you explain it in more detail?
Many times, a doctor's jargon can be difficult for parents to follow. But, don't feel ashamed if you are unable to understand the medical jargon or complex explanation. Ask the pediatrician to explain once again — this time in layman's terms — to better understand your child's condition. Your doctor will be glad to bring you on the same page.
Q8. What about my child's diet during the treatment?
For certain illnesses, you may need to restrict your child's diet. Also, things like gluten and lactose can aggravate some conditions. So, don't overlook your child's diet. Ensure that you have a word with your child's pediatrician on diet suggestions.
Q9. Do we need a second/expert opinion?
If you find that your child is not getting any better or feel that the illness calls for an expert opinion, do share your concerns with the pediatric doctor. She can recommend a specialist based on your child's symptoms.
Q10. Are there any new vaccines that my child may require?
With new diseases showing up every now and then, it is only wise to keep up with the latest developments in vaccinations. So, remember to ask the pediatrician about any new or seasonal vaccinations that your child should receive.
A healthy child leading a healthy life is the wish of every parent. In fact, no parent wants their child to fall sick or suffer from any health condition. However, occasionally, every child falls sick and needs medical care. So, if your child contracts a disease, which doctor would you take her to — a general physician who is your family doctor or a child specialist?
Both your family physician and the pediatric doctor are medical professionals. However, there is a difference between the two. While the former treats patients of all age groups, a pediatrician is a medical professional who is trained to take care of newborns, toddlers, kids and teens.
Child-friendly office: Your child may not like visiting a clinic or a hospital because the environment there evokes fear and anxiety. However, a pediatrician's office and the waiting area are usually child-friendly — with toys, aquariums and colourful posters to make your child feel at ease.
Non-judgmental and helpful staff: If your child throws a tantrum or has a meltdown, the staff in a pediatric clinic are always willing to help. Most of them know how to deal with children and calm them down. They are also non-judgmental about your parenting, which would make you feel comfortable as well.
Relaxed and easy-going approach: A child specialist has a relaxed and easy-going approach towards young patients. The pediatric doctor makes both the child and the parents feel comfortable and doesn't mind sparing extra time for answering an anxious parent's queries and concerns. This goes a long way in easing parents' worries and making them feel reassured.
Monitoring of all-round development: A pediatrician not only treats a sick child but also keeps track of how she is progressing with her physical and mental development milestones. As a result, the pediatric doctor can identify any issues related to development and address them early on. The child specialist also looks for any abnormal behaviour and gives advice on how to address the issue.
Children have their own special needs and concerns. And, pediatricians are trained to address a wide range of concerns in children. In addition to pediatric doctors, there are also pediatric surgeons who perform operations on children ranging from infants to teens. So, it is always a good idea to associate with a pediatrician.
Most children don't enjoy a visit to the pediatrician. However, not only should you take your child to a child specialist when she is sick, but you should also take her to one for periodic visits. However, it's important to make pediatric doctor visits a positive experience for your child.
Facing the inevitable
Visits to the pediatrician are an inescapable part of a child's life. But, you would agree that, if not always then at times, it is challenging to prepare your toddler or kid to see the pediatric doctor. From crying spells to biting and hitting to outbursts of temper, you would have to put up with everything to take your child to the doctor.
Why your child acts reluctant
Once your infant steps into toddlerhood, it begins to dawn upon you that your clueless, innocent child now has a mind of his own. For, he has learnt to say 'no' to what he doesn't like. And, some of the things he doesn't like are an unfamiliar environment, being handled by an unfamiliar individual, fear of getting hurt and being left alone. The anticipation of a visit to the pediatric doctor evokes all these feelings. This makes your child resist any attempt to take him to see the pediatrician.
A little preparation before the consultation would go a long way in making everyone's life easier — you, your child and the child specialist. Here are a few tips to consider the next time you plan to take your child for a visit to the pediatrician.
Inform beforehand: Do you trick your child into visiting the pediatrician or never disclose that you are taking him to meet the doctor? If so, then it would be a good idea to inform your child a day or two beforehand that both of you would be paying a visit to his doctor for a consultation.
Reassure your child: ‘What will the doctor do?’, ‘Will she give injections?’, ‘Will I need to stay alone with the doctor for the check-up?’ — such questions arise in the mind of almost every child, not only during the first visit but also during later visits. So, explain the purpose of the consultation and what may happen during the visit. This will reassure your child and calm her down.
Tell the truth: Nothing hurts more than the feeling of being betrayed. So, when your child asks you questions about the visit to the pediatric doctor, tell him the truth. Don't try to make it look like a rosy experience.
Explain in simple language: Explain all that may happen during the check-up in simple language. You can also explain the sensations caused by the use of certain equipment such as the otoscope, thermometer and reflex hammer.
Use play to inform: One of the best ways of addressing your child's fears is through role-play. You can play the role of a doctor and your child that of the patient. This way, you can take her through what may happen at the child specialist's office.
It is typical for parents to take a sick child to see the pediatrician. However, apart from offering treatment, your child's pediatrician is also a valuable source of information related to every aspect of child care.
Together with parents, pediatricians play an important role in caring for children and keeping them healthy. But, when it comes to taking the child to see the child specialist, most parents think that a consultation is only necessary when the young one falls sick. Do you also agree with this view? If so, then, perhaps, you are underestimating the importance of a well-child visit. Taking your child to the pediatrician for a check-up even when he is doing well is far more important, as you are about to find out.
What are well-child visits?
Parents in India are slowly becoming aware of the importance of well-child visits. During the early years, a child grows at a faster pace. Therefore, it is important to keep track of the child's progress and health. Well-child visits serve this very purpose. The frequency of these visits during infancy are higher, but their number keeps decreasing as the child grows older.
What happens at well-child visits?
At well-child visits, the child specialist conducts a complete physical examination of the newborn, baby, toddler or kid. Usually, the physician records the height and weight, checks vision and hearing, examines the heart, lungs, belly and joints to look for any abnormalities, and measures the head to monitor brain growth.
For a better assessment, the pediatric doctor may also ask questions about your child's sleeping and feeding routines, bowel movements, motor skills, and her gaze and hearing.
Your child's pediatrician would also administer vaccines when they become due during one of the well-child visits.
As your child transitions from a newborn to a baby to a toddler to a much older child, the frequency of these visits come down to usually once every six months and then to a year. Along with the usual physical check-up, the pediatrician may ask you about language development, tantrums, oral hygiene, toilet training, gait, activities your child enjoys, his interests and so on.
How well-child visits help
Every consultation at the child specialist's office demands that you squeeze some time out of your busy schedule. However, when you think about it, you would agree that it is worth the effort.
A pediatric doctor visit ensures that any potential issue with your child gets identified and addressed before it blows up into a problem. These pediatrician consultations also provide you with the perfect opportunity to talk and learn more about childcare. So, before you go for the next well-child visit, make a note of what questions you would like to ask your child's pediatrician.
About the authors:
Written by Aarthi Arun and Arun Sharma on 30 June 2018; updated on 26 August 2019
Aarthi Arun is a writer from Chennai, who currently calls Toronto her home. Although she has donned many hats, from a photographer to a librarian to a software engineer, she has learnt the most in the role of a mother. With her 6-year-old son Kathir, she loves going on long walks, building LEGO blocks and reading adventurous stories.
Arun Sharma was associated with the healthcare industry before becoming a full-time writer and editor. A doting father to two preteens, he believes in experiential learning for his children. Also, he loves mountain trekking and nature trips.
Schizophrenia is a psychiatric disorder that causes disturbances in thinking, behaviour and emoti...
Dr Pallavi Arvind Joshi
Keeping your child away from infections is often a challenging task. Find out how the sunshine vi...
Hima Ann Isaac
Ever wondered what happens to the good bacteria when you kill the bad ones? Learn all about the i...
Dr V V Vivekanand