image A sick child—could anything be worse for a parent? As your child sniffs, sneezes, and runs a fever, you often feel helpless. But there are things you can do to help your child get on the path to recovery.

The first step is to ask questions at the doctor's office, especially regarding prescribed medications. It is your right and your responsibility to be an informed parent. You may want to bring a notepad so that you can write down all the information.

  • What is the name of the medication and how will it help my child?
  • Is the medication available in both brand name and generic versions, and is it all right to use a generic form of the medication? What is the name of the generic version? Is it all right to switch among brands, or between brand name and generic forms?
  • What is the proper dosage for my child? Will the dose change with growth?
  • What if my child has a problem with the pill or capsule? Is it available in a chewable tablet or liquid form?
  • How many times a day should the medication be given? Should it be taken with meals, or on an empty stomach? Should the school give the medication during the day?
  • How long must my child take this medication? If it is discontinued, should it be done all at once or slowly?
  • Does my child need to be monitored while on this medication and, if so, by whom?
  • Should my child have any lab tests before taking this medication? Will it be necessary to have blood levels checked or have other lab tests during the time my child is taking this medication?
  • Should my child avoid certain foods, other medications, or activities while using this medication?
  • Are there possible side effects? If I notice a side effect—such as unusual sleepiness, restlessness, fatigue, hand tremors—should I notify the doctor at once?
  • What if my child misses a dose? Spits it up?
  • How well established and accepted is the use of this medication in children or adolescents?