Preparing for your appointment

Unless severe symptoms result in an emergency room (ER) visit, you're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or your child's doctor. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and know what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Write down any symptoms you noticed and when they started, even if they seem unrelated to an upper respiratory infection.
  • Write down key medical information, such as if your child was born prematurely or if he or she has a heart or lung problem.
  • Write down details about child care, considering other locations where your family may have been exposed to respiratory infections.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor. Your time with your doctor is limited. Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out.

For respiratory syncytial virus, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is likely causing these symptoms? Are there other possible causes?
  • What tests might be needed?
  • How long do symptoms usually last?
  • What is the best treatment?
  • Is medication needed? If you're prescribing a brand-name medication, is there a generic alternative?
  • What can I do to make my child feel better?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
  • To what extent should I isolate my child while infected?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask any additional ones you may think of during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may allow more time for you to discuss information in greater detail. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you first notice symptoms?
  • Do the symptoms come and go or persist?
  • How severe are the symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen symptoms?
  • Is anyone else in the family ill? What symptoms does he or she have?

What you can do in the meantime

If your child has a fever, you can give him or her acetaminophen (Tylenol, others). Have your child drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Keeping your child upright and the air moist with a humidifier also may help ease congestion.