Preparing for your appointment

If you're experiencing temporary visual or sensory disturbances, see your family doctor or a general practitioner. In some cases, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in nervous system disorders (neurologist).

Here's information to help you get ready for your appointment and to know what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Keep track of your symptoms. One of the most helpful things you can do is keep a headache diary. Write a description of each incident of visual disturbances or unusual sensations. What are they? When did they happen? How long did they last? What followed them? Did something seem to trigger them? A headache diary may help your doctor diagnose your condition.
  • Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

For migraine with aura, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What's the likely cause of my symptoms?
  • What tests, if any, do I need?
  • Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
  • What treatments are available? Which do you recommend?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting?
  • I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Are there dietary restrictions I need to follow?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
  • Are there written materials I can take with me or websites you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions you have.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:

  • When did you begin having symptoms?
  • What types of visual symptoms or other sensations do you have?
  • How long do they last?
  • Are they followed by a headache?
  • If you have headaches, how often do you get them and how long do they last?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
May 05, 2016
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  2. Headache: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Accessed April 18, 2013.
  3. Cutrer MF, et al. Pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis of migraine in adults. Accessed March 21, 2016.
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  5. Bajwa ZH, et al. Preventive treatment of migraine in adults. Accessed March 21, 2016.
  6. Swanson JW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 30, 2016.
  7. Gooriah R, et al. OnabotulinumtoxinA for chronic migraine: A critical appraisal. Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management. 2015;11:1003.
  8. Headache hygiene tips. American Headache Society Committee for Headache Education. Accessed April 17, 2013.