Make an appointment with your family doctor or pediatrician if your child has any signs or symptoms that worry you. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in digestive problems (gastroenterologist), respiratory problems (pulmonologist) or problems affecting the brain and nervous system (neurologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your child's appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your child's doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your child's diet.
- Write down any symptoms your child is experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements your child is taking.
- Take a family member or friend along. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your child's doctor.
Your time with your child's doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For neuroblastoma, some basic questions to ask your child's doctor include:
- What is likely causing my child's symptoms or condition?
- What are other possible causes for my child's symptoms or condition?
- What kinds of tests does my child need?
- Is my child's condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What is the best course of action?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- My child has these other health conditions. How can they best be managed together?
- Are there any restrictions that my child needs to follow?
- Should my child see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- What will determine whether I should plan for a follow-up visit?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your child's doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions anytime you don't understand something.
What to expect from your child's doctor
Your child's doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may allow more time to cover points you want to address. Your child's doctor may ask:
Nov. 20, 2012
- When did your child begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your child's symptoms been continuous?
- How severe are your child's symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your child's symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your child's symptoms?
- Kliegman RM, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1608/0.html. Accessed Sept. 19, 2012.
- Davenport KP, et al. Pediatric malignancies: Neuroblastoma, Wilm's tumor, hepatoblastoma, rhabdomyosarcoma and sacroccygeal teratoma. Surgical Clinics of North America. 2012;92:745.
- Abeloff MD, et al. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-4/0/1709/0.html. Accessed Sept. 19, 2012.
- Neuroblastoma treatment (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/neuroblastoma/patient. Accessed Sept. 19, 2012.
- NageswaraRao AA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 1, 2012.