You're likely to start by seeing your primary care provider, but you may be referred to a doctor trained in evaluating and treating headaches (neurologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot to talk about, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down symptoms you're experiencing, even if they seem unrelated to your migraines.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking. It's particularly important to list all medications, as well as the dosages you have used to treat your headaches.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so 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 migraine headaches, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely triggering my migraine headaches?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What is the best course of action?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- What changes to my lifestyle or diet do you suggest I make?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing for me?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions 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 reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Has anyone in your family experienced migraines?
What you can do in the meantime
June 04, 2013
- Keep a headache diary. A diary can help you and your doctor determine what triggers your migraines. Note when your headaches start, how long they last and what, if anything, provides relief.
Be sure to record your response to any headache medications you take. Also note the foods you ate in the 24 hours preceding attacks, any unusual stress, and how you feel and what you're doing when headaches strike.
- Reduce stress. Because stress triggers migraines for many people, try to avoid overly stressful situations, or use stress-reduction techniques like meditation.
- Get enough sleep. Aim for a regular sleep schedule and get an adequate amount of sleep.
- NINDS migraine information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/migraine/migraine.htm. Accessed April 4, 2013.
- Headache: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/headache/detail_headache.htm. Accessed April 4, 2013.
- Cutrer FM, et al. Pathophysiology, clinical manifestations and diagnosis of migraine in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 4, 2013.
- Daroff RB, et al. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0434-1..C2009-0-40427-6--TOP&isbn=978-1-4377-0434-1&uniqId=364938937-2. Accessed April 4, 2013.
- Bajwa ZH, et al. Acute treatment of migraine in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 4, 2013.
- Calhoun AH. Estrogen-associated migraine. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 5, 2013.
- Martin KA, et al. Risks and side effects associated with estrogen-progestin contraceptives. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 5, 2013.
- Solomon DH. Nonselective NSAIDs: Overview of adverse effects. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 8, 2013.
- Bajwa ZH, et al. Preventive treatment of migraine in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 4, 2013.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed April 9, 2013.
- Headaches and complementary health approaches. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/pain/headachefacts.htm?nav=gsa. Accessed April 9, 2013.
- Ramzan M, et al. Headache, migraine and stroke. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 9, 2013.
- Cruse RP. Management of migraine headache in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 10, 2013.
- U.S. News best hospitals 2012-2013. U.S. News & World Report. http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings. Accessed April 4, 2013.
- Tintinalli JE, et al. Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=40. Accessed April 26, 2013.
- Swanson JW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 25, 2013.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.