Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
If you're experiencing temporary visual or sensory disturbances, a first step in having your symptoms evaluated is to 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 some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and 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 symptoms journal. Each time you experience visual disturbances or unusual sensations, write down a description of them — What are they? When did they happen? How long did they last? What followed them? Did they seem to be triggered by anything? Also, include what you were eating or drinking before they started, and if you're taking any medications or dietary supplements. A symptoms journal can offer valuable clues that 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 the symptoms I'm experiencing?
- What kinds of tests, if any, do I need?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What types of treatments are available? Which do you recommend?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any dietary restrictions that I need to follow?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
- Are there any brochures or websites 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 begin experiencing 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?
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- Bajwa ZH, et al. Preventive treatment of migraine in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 6, 2011.
- FDA approves Botox to treat chronic migraine. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm229782.htm. Accessed Dec. 2, 2010.