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Talking to Your Doctor About Headache

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You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with headache. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Headache
  • What type of headaches do I have?
  • Is it possible to have more than one type of headache?
About Your Risk of Developing Headache
  • Based on my medical history, lifestyle, and family background, am I at risk for headaches?
  • Am I currently taking any medication that puts me at higher risk for headaches?
  • How do I best prevent headaches?
About Treatment Options
  • How do I best treat my headache?
  • What medications are available to help me?
    • What are the benefits/side effects of these medications?
    • Will these medications interact with other medications, over-the-counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements I am already taking for other conditions?
  • Are there any alternative or complementary therapies that will help me?
About Lifestyle Changes
  • Are there dietary changes I should make? How do I go about it?
  • Should I engage in exercise?
    • What kind of exercise is best?
    • How often should I exercise?
    • How do I get started with an exercise program?
  • Should I stop drinking alcohol?
  • How can I find help to quit smoking?
About Your Outlook
  • How do I know that my prevention or treatment program is effective?
  • Will I always be plagued by headaches?

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 12/2013 -
  • Update Date: 01/13/2014 -
  • Headache—frequently asked questions. National Headache Foundation website. Available at: http://www.headaches.org/education/Tools%5Ffor%5FSufferers/Headache%5F-%5FFrequently%5FAsked%5FQuestions. Accessed November 7, 2012.