Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. You may then be referred to a doctor who specializes in nervous system disorders (neurologist).

It's good to arrive at your appointment well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and to help you know what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Keep a headache diary. Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated. Also, keep track of what you were doing, eating or drinking before the headache began. List the duration of the headache, as well as what medications and the dose you took to treat the headache.
  • Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For rebound headaches, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • How could I cause a headache with medicine I took to treat a headache?
  • Could there be any other reasons for my headaches?
  • How can I stop these headaches?
  • Are there any alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
  • What if my original headaches come back? How can I treat them?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask any other questions that occur to you.

What to expect from your doctor

The doctor will ask a series of questions about your headaches, such as when they started and what they feel like. The more the doctor knows about your headaches and medication use, the better care he or she will be able to provide. Your doctor may ask:

  • What type of headache do you usually experience?
  • Has there been a change in your headaches during the past six months?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • How do you normally treat your headaches?
  • What types of headache medications do you use?
  • How often do you take headache medication?
  • Have you had to increase your dose of headache medication or take it more often?
  • Have you used any different medications in the past for your headaches? What was the dose?
  • How long did you use a previous medication?
  • Did it help relieve your headaches? Why did you stop taking it?
  • What types of side effects have you experienced from medications?
  • Does anything help improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?

What you can do in the meantime

While you're awaiting your appointment, try to take your medication only as directed by your doctor. Relax as much as you can, and try to take good care of yourself. Healthy lifestyle habits, such as adequate sleep, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and regular exercise, can help prevent headaches. In addition, be sure to avoid any known headache triggers.

A headache diary can be very helpful for your doctor. Try to keep track of when your headaches occur, their severity and duration, what you were doing when the headache began, and what your response to the headache was.

Dec. 09, 2011

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.