When getting prepared to visit your doctor for your headache problem, the best way to make the most of your visit is to write down everything you know about your headache providing your doctor with as much information of the characteristics, causes, frequency, severity, medications of your headache and other data that you deem may be vital for your doctor to know. This list can include:
- Family members living or dead you know who suffer from frequent headaches
- Foods and drinks you have eaten within the last 24 hours
- Your sleeping habits
- Any head trauma you have (falls and bumps on your head)
- Any physical strain you may be feeling
- Missing a meal or snack
- Any exposure to smoke, chemicals, scents or perfumes
- The weather when you experienced the headache
- Feelings of stress when the headache began
- The start of headache during any sexual activity
- Place where your headache often occurs (shopping centers, office, home, etc.)
- Any herbs or natural remedies that might have caused the headache
- Any medications, prescribed or over-the-counter you are taking or have recently taken
- The duration of the headaches (days, hours)
- Exact location of the headache (back or front of the head, sides of the head, front of the head, etc.)
- Other symptoms that accompany the headache
- Any headaches during your menstrual period
Questions you can ask your doctor about your headache can include:
- What changes to my lifestyle can you suggest to lessen or prevent the occurrence of my headache?
- How can I know what causes my headaches?
- What are the things I should make note of in my headache diary?
- What medications I am presently taking that may have caused my headaches?
- What chances are there my headaches or migraines might resolve themselves? If yes, how long do you think it can occur?
- Do you think biofeedback, hypnosis or other alternative therapies can help?
- Are there any over-the-counter meds strong enough to relieve my headache?
- Do you think I can take medications for my migraines?
- Are there side effects to the medications you recommend?
- What steps can I take to lessen these side effects?
For his part, the doctor will ask you questions about your headache that will help him formulate a correct diagnosis. These questions can be:
- Do you suffer from other conditions that accompany your headache?
- Do you have other health issues besides your headaches?
- Do you have members of your family that suffer from frequent headaches or migraines?
- What drugs have you taken for your headache?
- What part of your head do you feel the ache?
- Is your headache a new type of headache you now experience?
- Is your headache a throbbing headache?
- Do you feel a band-like sensation or a pressure on your head?
- What time of day does the headache happen? How long do they endure?
- How long have you been suffering these headaches?
- What time of day or night does your headache worsen and feel much better? Does your headache forces you to wake up from your sleep?
- After the headaches start, are there any other symptoms that follow them? Do you suffer from repeat headaches?
- Does your headache reach its most painful intensity for over an hour or more?
- Does your headache worsen if you are standing up, sitting down or lying down?
- Does your head ache when you strain or cough?
- Do you have headaches during your menstrual cycle?
- Have you tried home remedies? Did they work?
These questions along with a review of your headache and general medical history plus diagnostic tests studies will be made and requested by your doctor.
An examination of your nervous system, neck, throat, nose, ears, eyes and head will be done by your physician or your health care provider.
Dr. Vickery is a licensed acupuncturist in Tarzana, CA., and the founder and clinical director of Vickery Health and Wellness.