Talking To Your Doctor About Migraines

Migraines and headaches are common, and they seem to show certain broad patterns across a wide range of patients from a variety of backgrounds. But migraine patterns can also be very unique, and the actual connection between migraines and the events that cause them are not always well understood. ‘

Triggers, symptoms and effective treatments can vary from one person to the next. For this reason, the best way to fight back against migraines and headaches is by talking to your doctor.

Talking to Your Doctor: Migraine Symptoms

You can help assist your doctor in helping you by being very clear about your symptoms. To prepare for your appointment, consider the following questions:

  • Do you experience auras (visual disturbances) before feeling headache pain, or do your migraines appear suddenly, with no warning?
  • Do you experience headache pain alone, or is your pain accompanied by nausea and visual sensations, like bright flashing lights?

Your answers to these questions can help your doctor target the specific type of migraine that may be affecting you.

When you start talking to your doctor about your migraines and headaches, you may also want to bring along a written record of your recent migraines and any events or environmental changes that may have triggered them. If you don’t keep a migraine diary already, you may want to get a notebook and use it to take a few notes each time you feel a migraine coming on. Bring the notebook along on your healthcare visits.

Talking to Your Doctor: Migraine Treatment Plans

Depending on your lifestyle and your family and personal history, your doctor may decide to prescribe a pharmaceutical migraine treatment plan. Some drugs may help you to reduce the severity and frequency of your attacks. Your doctor may recommend:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Opiates
  • Prescription pain medications
  • Preventative medications that you take every day, whether you have a migraine or not.

Your doctor may also recommend changes in your sleep patterns, diet or exercise habits. Or you and your doctor may determine that you’d benefit the most from a non-pharmaceutical migraine treatment like acupuncture, massage, or herbal supplements.

As you begin a migraine treatment plan, stay in close contact and make sure your doctor knows about any changes, so your treatments can be adjusted accordingly.


Mayo Clinic. (2010.) Migraine treatments and drugs. Retrieved January 14, 2011, from

MedicineNet. (2010.) Migraine headache. Retrieved January 14, 2011, from