Questions to Ask About Medications for your Child

Medication may be an important part of treatment for your child. It is often used as one part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Other forms of therapy should be implemented along with medication. Ask your physician why other forms of therapy have not been recommended if only medication is offered. Regular ongoing evaluation and monitoring of the child’s overall progress by the prescribing physician is essential. This is often weekly with a new medication and monthly for monitoring.

Medicine is not an exact science but rather a science of probabilities therefore, conflicting research and ‘expert’ claims have left us all wondering ‘what is best for my child?’ Be informed.

By asking the following questions, children, adolescents and their parents will gain a better understanding of why the medication is being used and what to expect in the short and long term.

  • Are there any laboratory tests (i.e. heart or blood test etc.) which need to be done before my child begins taking their medication?
  • How long will my child need to take this medication and how often will progress be checked?
  • How will the decision be made to stop this medication?
  • How will the medication help my child and how long before I see any improvement?
  • Is this medication addictive? Can it be abused? What precautions need to be taken with this medication?
  • Should the medication be taken with food, or at a particular time of day?
  • Has this medication proved helpful to other children with a similar condition?
  • What are the side effects that commonly occur with this medication? What rarer side effects have been reported? What are the long term side effects, particularly of newer medications.
  • What is the expected cost of the medication?
  • What is the recommended dosage? How often will the medication be taken?
  • How long does it take before I’ll see some results?
  • Are there other medications or foods that my child should avoid while taking the medication?
  • Are there any activities or sports that my child should not participate in while taking the medication?
  • Will any tests (x-rays, MRI’s, lab work) need to be done while my child is taking the medication?
  • How often should I expect these tests to be needed?
  • Should my child’s teacher or the school nurse be informed to watch for any changes as the child begins treatment?
  • What do I do if a problem develops (i.e. if my child becomes ill, doses are missed, or side effects develop)?

Who should I call:

  • to report serious side effects?
  • if I have any questions and/or concerns?

If you still have serious questions or doubts about medication treatment and are undecided about medication, consider the following:

  • You should feel free to ask for a referral for a second opinion.
  • Consult your family doctor, he knows your child and family well.

Reviewed by M. Kodsi, M.D., Child and Family Psychiatrist.

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