Sometimes it can be embarrassing to tell your child's doctor the absolute truth. Does the doctor really need to know if your child drinks soda at home, or if you sometimes smoke around your kids? What about vitamins? Is it really necessary to tell the doctor about any and all over the counter meds your child might be taking? Actually, the answer to all of these questions is yes. And the reason you should be honest with your doctor has everything to do with giving your child the best medical care possible, and nothing to do with your level of embarrassment.
How did this injury occur?
I believe I was asked the question, "How did this happen?" at least a dozen times when my daughter broke her arm last month. It was more than a matter of curiosity. The hospital staff needs to know as much as possible about how an injury occurred so that they can treat the patient appropriately.
My mom worked in radiology for years before retiring. She said that parents would often lie about how an injury occurred, sometimes to cover abuse but many times just because they were embarrassed to admit the truth. But every break is different, and it's important to know how a child broke a bone because that can affect how it is treated. Besides, the X-rays for an arm-twisting break won't match those of a fall from the jungle gym, for example. If your explanation does not match the physical evidence, you could be in more trouble than a simple visit to the emergency room.
Is your child taking any medication?
Whether your child is taking vitamins or prescription medications, over the counter antihistamines or recreational drugs, you need to answer this question honestly. Even seemingly benign substances can produce serious reactions in some patients, especially when combined with other drugs. This is why the hospital asks about caffeine, not to scold you for allowing your kids a pop, but to make sure that no drugs your child is given will interact with the caffeine they have consumed.
If you have given your child an over the counter medicine or herbal remedy recently, make note of it. The hospital staff might frown on you giving your child a cold medicine before they are six years old, but that's better than giving your child a medication that will produce an adverse reaction when combined with that cold medicine.
Is your child exposed to secondhand smoke?
Unfortunately, smoking is legal, even around children, and many people smoke daily around their kids. If you are one of them, own up to it and answer this question truthfully. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, secondhand smoke can cause all sorts of problems, including asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections and an increased risk of SIDS. A new study indicates that exposing kids to tobacco smoke can also increase complications and hospitalizations from the flu. Your child's doctor needs to know if your child is facing a factor that will complicate their treatment.
Is your child sexually active?
According to the Guttmacher Institute's latest data, approximately 70 percent of teens are sexually active. More than 20 percent of teens do not use any contraceptive the first time they have sex, and teens practicing unprotected sex have a 90 percent chance of becoming pregnant over the course of one year. That is to say nothing of sexually transmitted diseases.
Asking you about your child's sexual activity, or asking your child directly is not some perverted invasion of privacy. It is a necessary question that can determine the course of treatment for an adolescent. Do not be offended, and if you honestly don't know for certain, say so. Encourage your child to speak openly and honestly with their doctor, even if the answers may be embarrassing. Honest answers could save their life, or the life of an unborn baby.
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