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Migraines and Other Headaches

Recognizing Migraine HeadachesThe Doctor Takes The History

One of the most important things a doctor does before making a diagnosis of migraine or other headache is to take a history. Your parents have known you your whole life, and they also know about their own parents. Because migraines tend to run in families, try to get both of your parents to go with you on your first visit to the doctor. However, if there are things that you would like to discuss in privacy, it's okay to ask to speak to the doctor alone.

In chapter 1 we went over some questions doctors ask to help them classify headaches. Before doing a physical examination, the doctor will ask more questions.

Family and Social History

  • Who else in your family (on your mother's or father's side) has had migraines or other headaches? Do either of your parents have migraines? Do any of your siblings have headaches?
  • Are any past or current events causing you extreme grief—death, divorce, family turmoil, trouble in school or with friends?
  • Have you had any significant illness? Are you taking any regular medications, drinking alcohol, or using any illegal substances?

Your Personal Headache History

  • How old do you think you were when you had your first headache?
  • Have your headaches gotten better or worse since that first one?
  • Have you noticed anything that seems to trigger a headache? A certain food? Bright light? Stress? Menstrual periods?
  • At what time of day do you usually get a headache?
  • What have you tried to cure your headaches? What works? What doesn't work?
  • Are you worried about a more serious cause of your headaches, such as illness?

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaMigraines and Other HeadachesMigraines and Other Headaches - Recognizing Migraine Headaches - Who Can Help?, The Doctor Takes The History, The Physical Exam, Other Diagnostic Tools - Draw A Picture Of Your Headache, Honesty Is The Best Policy