It is only natural for new parents to be anxious, and you may worry because you are not sure whether your baby is genuinely ill. Along with many doctors I quickly learned that the one person whose opinion cannot be dismissed is the mother’s. So your guideline should be: whenever in doubt, call a doctor. Don’t feel shy about asking your child’s doctor questions if something is worrying you, however, trivial it may seem.
What to tell the doctor In order to make a diagnosis a doctor will need the following information: a description of your child’s symptoms; when they started; in what order they occurred; how severe they are; and whether anything precipitated them (eating something poisonous, for instance). In addition to this, the doctor will need to know your child’s age and medical history.
Be prepared to give details of any injury or accident. Did your child lose consciousness? Has she had anything to eat or drink (in case she needs an anesthetic)? Was she bitten by an insect or animal? What was it and what were her symptoms? If she has swallowed a toxic substance or plant, keep it to show to the doctor.
The specific questions your doctor might ask you about an illness are: Has your child vomited or had diarrhea? Does she have any pain? Where is it? How long has it lasted? Have you given her anything for the pain? Does she have breathing problems? Is her temperature raised? How quickly did the fever come on and what was her highest temperature? Has she lost consciousness at any time? Have you noticed swollen glands or a rash? Has she had any dizziness or blurred vision? The doctor will also ask about your child’s appetite, sleeping patterns, exposures, and travel, if any.
WHAT TO ASK THE DOCTOR If your child is prescribed drugs, make sure that you know when they should be taken (some need to be taken on a full stomach), how long they should be taken for, and whether they are any side effects. Find out how your child should be cared for and how soon her symptoms can be expected to go away.
With an infectious disease you’ll need to know whether it’s safe to have visitors, how long your child will have to be out of school, and whether the illness has any long-term effects.