Headache - what to ask your doctor

  • Definition
    • A headache is pain or discomfort in your head, scalp, or neck.

      Below are questions you may want to ask your health care provider about your headaches.

  • Alternative Names
    • What to ask your doctor about headaches; Migraine - what to ask your doctor; Tension-type headache - what to ask your doctor; Cluster headache - what to ask your doctor

  • Questions
    • How can I tell if the headache I am having is dangerous?

      What are the symptoms of a tension-type headache? A migraine headache? A cluster headache?

      What medical problems can cause headaches? What tests do I need?

      What changes in my lifestyle may help my headaches?

      • Are there foods that I should stay away from that may make my headaches worse?
      • Are there medicines that may be causing my headaches?
      • Will alcohol or smoking make my headaches worse?
      • Will exercise help my headaches?

      What are the pain medicines that can be used for headaches?

      • Will taking too many pain medicines make my headaches worse?
      • What are the side effects of these medicines?
      • Will any of these medicines make me sleepy or confused?

      What should I do when I feel a headache beginning?

      • Are there medicines I can take that will stop an oncoming headache?
      • What can I do when I have headaches at work?

      Are there medicines that I can take that will make my headaches come less often?

      What can I do about nausea or vomiting with my headaches?

      Are there any herbs or supplements that I can take that will help? How do I know if they are safe?

  • References
    • Digre KB. Headaches and other head pain. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 398.

      Garza I, Swanson JW, Cheshire WP Jr, et al. Headache and other craniofacial pain. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 69.

      Kwiatkowski T, Friedman BW. Headache disorders. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al., eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 103.