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Talking to Your Doctor About Headache

It is vital that you talk with your doctor about your risk factors and experience with headache. It will help you take an active role in your care.

Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will help you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone with you. It helps to have a second person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write your questions ahead of time.
  • Write down the answers you get. Make sure you grasp what you hear. Ask for more detail if you need to.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or where you can find out more about what you are talking about. You have a right to know.

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 Getting Headaches

  • Based on my health, lifestyle, and family background, am I at risk for headaches?
  • Am I taking any medicine that puts me at higher risk?
  • How do I prevent headaches?

About Treatments

  • How do I treat my headache?
  • What medicines are right for me?
    • What are the benefits/side effects of these medicines?
    • Will they cause problems with other medicines, 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

  • Should I make changes to the foods that I eat? How do I start?
  • Should I workout?
    • What kind of exercise is best?
    • How often should I workout?
    • How do I get started?
  • Should I stop drinking alcohol?
  • How can I find help to quit smoking?

About Your Outlook

  • How do I know that the changes I am making are working?
  • Will I always have headaches?

Cluster headache. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated February 16, 2016. Accessed January 11, 2019.

Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society (IHS) The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition. Cephalalgia. 2018 Jan;38(1):1-211.

Headache—frequently asked questions. National Headache Foundation website. Available at: Accessed January 11, 2019.

Headaches, rebound. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: Updated March 2, 2018. Accessed January 11, 2019.

Migraine in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated November 8, 2018. Accessed January 11, 2019.

NINDS headache information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: Accessed January 11, 2019.

Tension-type headache. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated February 8, 2017. Accessed January 11, 2019.

Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed January 11, 2019.

Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD