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).

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

  • Keep a headache diary. Write down your symptoms, even those that seem unrelated to headaches. Note what you were doing, eating or drinking before the headache began, how long the headache lasted, and the medications and amounts you took to treat the headache.
  • Write down key personal information, including major stresses or recent life changes.
  • List questions to ask your doctor.

For rebound headaches, some questions to ask your doctor include:

  • How could I cause a headache with medicine I took to treat a headache?
  • Could there be other reasons for my headaches?
  • How can I stop these headaches?
  • Are there alternatives to the approach you're suggesting?
  • If my original headaches return, how can I treat them?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask any other questions.

What to expect from your doctor

The doctor will ask 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 have?
  • Have your headaches changed in the past six months?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What headache medications do you use, and how often?
  • Have you increased the amount or frequency of taking them?
  • What side effects have you had from medications?
  • Does anything help improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?

What you can do in the meantime

Until your appointment, take your medication only as directed by your doctor, and take care of yourself. Healthy lifestyle habits — such as getting adequate sleep, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and getting regular exercise — can help prevent headaches. Avoid any known headache triggers.

A headache diary can be very helpful for your doctor. 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. 02, 2014

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