Preparing for your appointment

You'll probably first see a primary care provider, but you may be referred to a doctor trained in evaluating and treating headaches (neurologist).

Because appointments can be brief and there's often a lot to discuss, prepare for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Write down symptoms you're experiencing, even if they seem unrelated to your migraines.
  • Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking. It's particularly important to list all medications, as well as the dosages you have used to treat your headaches.
  • Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important, in case time runs out. For migraines, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is likely triggering my migraines?
  • Are there other possible causes for my migraine symptoms?
  • What kinds of tests do I need?
  • Are my migraines likely temporary or chronic?
  • What is the best course of action?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
  • What changes to my lifestyle or diet do you suggest I make?
  • I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing for me?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do 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, so be ready to answer them to save time for your questions. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • Has anyone in your family experienced migraines?

What you can do in the meantime

  • Keep a headache diary. A diary can help spot your migraine triggers. Note when your headaches start, how long they last and anything that provides relief.

    Be sure to record your response to any headache medications you take. Also note the foods you ate in the 24 hours preceding attacks, any unusual stress, and how you feel and what you're doing when headaches strike.

  • Reduce stress. Because stress triggers migraines for many people, try to avoid overly stressful situations, or use stress-reduction techniques such as meditation.
  • Get enough sleep. Aim for a regular sleep schedule and get an adequate amount of sleep.
June 17, 2016
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