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Migraines and Other Headaches - Recognizing Migraine Headaches - Who Can Help?

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Medical Practitioners

As we have seen, medical conditions can contribute to headaches. When your head feels ready to pop, you want instant relief, but first you should find out the cause of your headaches. Medical practitioners are the best-equipped professionals to figure out your headache type and to offer appropriate remedies.

Primary Care Physicians

Your primary care physician may be a general practitioner, a family physician, a pediatrician, or even an emergency room doctor. It is helpful if this doctor is someone you have known over the years and feel comfortable with. If your primary doctor can diagnose and treat your headaches, you may not have to see a specialist.

Specialists

If, after a period of time, you do not get relief from your headaches, you may need to see a specialist. Your primary physician can refer you to a pediatric neurologist, who is a specialist in two disciplines: pediatrics (the care of young people) and neurology (the care of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves).

In addition to a primary doctor and/or a neurologist, you may also get help from a psychologist or psychiatrist. Both specialize in the ways emotions contribute to physical illness, and the ways in which physical illnesses contribute to emotional distress. For example, a person who has frequent, severe migraines or chronic daily headaches may get depressed and feel that life with a constant headache is not worth living.

“I used to be a very outgoing person,” says Sienna. “But my headaches turned me into a her mit. I always felt sick to my stomach, so going out to eat didn't work. When I had a migraine, I didn't want to move at all because that made my head throb. The only thing I ever wanted to do was sleep. Eventually, my friends stopped calling me. When my doctor suggested I see a psychologist, I was sort of skeptical, but I went. I started taking medication and made some lifestyle changes too. Today, I rarely have to see any doctors. I can truly say I'm a new woman!”

Psychologists and licensed clinical social workers can help manage your depressive feelings and stress. Psychiatrists are counselors, too. In addition, psychiatrists can prescribe medication to treat depression. A children's hospital or university hospital may also have a headache clinic. If you go to a headache clinic, your doctor will be a specialist who sees people with the most stubborn and hard-to-treat headaches.

Migraines and Other Headaches - Recognizing Migraine Headaches - The Doctor Takes The History [next]

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