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Why Does the Doctor Need to Know?

By pingmd
on June 6, 2016

Our last post focused on a great article from Survivor Pediatrics. The author - Dr. Kristen Stuppy - touched on the pediatrician's often difficult experience with the phone call, and offered suggestions for how parents might make the process smoother. She recommended parents gather certain crucial health important information before picking the phone.

But how can you tell what information is most important? When you make a call, these are the questions the doctor will typically ask you after you've given a rundown of the symptoms. On pingmd, we've replicated this exchange in our Q&A. Here are some of the questions that will almost always appear:

What medications has the child has taken?

Knowing what medication your child has already taken and whether they have worsened, alleviated, or had little effect on symptoms will help the pediatrician understand how he or she is feeling, and whether it is necessary to prescribe a medicinal remedy.

It is also important to report this accurately to the pediatrician to avoid potential drug interactions. Acetaminophen and ibuprofin overdose is serious, especially in children. It's important to record and report to your pediatrician exactly how much medication you have already given your child, to ensure you are following the proper dosage.

What's the child's activity level?

Activity level is often a good indicator of the severity of symptoms. If your child is running a high fever, but seems to be playing and reacting as normal, it's most likely nothing serious. However, if he has a fever and is listless or fatigued, it may be a more urgent issue that requires treatment.

If your child is in pain, reporting the types of activity that cause this pain may help the pediatrician get to the root of the problem. Knowing this may help the doctor determine whether it is appropriate to recommend a pain reliever as as remedy.

What's the frequency of urination/wet diapers?

With this question, the doctor is trying to determine whether anything out of the ordinary is contributing to your child's illness. If he or she is having fewer wet diapers than normal, that may be a hint he is dehydrated. Dehydration can increase the severity of symptoms and is dangerous if left untreated too long. if your child has a gastrointestinal upset, he is particularly at risk of dehydration.

Frequent urination may also offer a clue as to what is going on with your child. Urinary tract infections are a common culprit here. However, a child who often has this issue may be referred to a doctor to test for diabetes, as frequent urination - along with thirst and weight loss - is often an early sign of the disease.

How is the child feeding?

A child who is feeling well will eat when he's hungry and ask for food. Knowing how much your child is eating will help the pediatrician determine how ill he or she feels and whether or not an extra source of nutrients is needed. Lack of appetite may also tip the doctor off to any stomach or intestinal upset.

A child who is not eating is not getting all the nutrients he needs each day is going to feel worse than one who is - and may be sicker, longer. Not eating may also lead to dehydration, adding to your child's misery. The pediatrician may use this information to recommend certain fluids with electrolytes or bland foods that will help your child stay nourished during his illness.

Preparing this information with each phone call or mVisit on pingmd will help the pediatrician offer you the best advice possible. Whenever your child gets sick, think about some of the things the pediatrician will need to know before reaching out. Your interaction will go more quickly, and you'll get the guidance you need even faster.

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