You know your body best. When you visit your doctor regarding your headaches, keep these few tips in mind. They’ll help you and your doctor make the most of the visit, and allow you to get back to your life quickly.
1. Make an appointment specifically about your headaches. Headache is a legitimate medical disorder. There are physicians who are headache specialists, and have a tremendous understanding of the causes of headaches and the many different treatment options available today. We suggest that you begin your headache care with your primary care physician (family physician, internist, or OB/GYN). Within a reasonable amount of time (approximately three months), if you don’t find adequate relief, ask your doctor to refer you to a headache specialist in your area. Or, call the National Headache Foundation at 888-NHF-5552 for a state-by-state list of physician members.
2. Bring a list of current medications. Sometimes it’s hard to remember every medication you take. Since some medications have different ingredients, you doctor will be able to tell you what they are and how much you take. Be sure to include over-the-counter products, as well as any natural supplements you may be taking.
3. Prepare for a dialogue with your physician. Keep a headache diary. Be organized, specific, direct, and ready to talk details. Use the “Weekly Caffeine Counter” to track your daily caffeine consumption, and bring the information with you to your appointment. Be prepared to provide information on your headache history and general medical history. Track your attacks and how you treat them. Note the date, length of each migraine, severity, symptoms, triggers, and impact on your life (i.e., how many days lost from work, how many family/social activities missed). Track medication taken, when, for how long, and its effectiveness in relieving pain and symptoms. Get to know your headache pattern and triggers so you feel more “in control.”
4. Be proactive. Ask questions. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms; don’t wait to be asked. Be sure to ask your doctor about new medications in development, have all the options explained to you, and work with your doctor to choose the treatment plan that’s best for you.
Caffeine and Headache