Preparing for Your First Visit
Tips for your first visit with a migraine specialist.
You can help your migraine doctor immensely by coming to your first visit prepared with pertinent information along with your insurance card and other documents. The doctor will ask many questions, and if you have the data recorded in advance, you can bring a print-out to your first appointment.
What to Bring
- Your insurance card and driver’s license or other official identification
- Your migraine log – at least 7-14 days of data
- A list of current prescriptions or over the counter medications you are taking for any reason. Include the dosage and frequency.
- Pertinent information about your medical and surgical history.
- Any recent images, X-rays, CAT scans, MRI, or other appropriate records.
- The reviewed and signed downloadable forms for new patients that can be found on our website.
Questions You May Be Asked
Here is a list of potential questions the doctor may ask. Try to prepare succinct yet thorough answers.
- How often do your migraines occur?
- What other symptoms do you have?
- Have any migraine triggers or causes been identified?
- Have you suffered any head injuries?
- Did you change your routine before the migraine pain began?
- Are you taking any medications?
- When did you begin suffering from migraine symptoms?
- What makes the symptoms improve and what makes them worse?
- Does anyone else in your immediate family (blood relatives) suffer from migraines?
Your specialist may have other questions, but this list presents an overview of what your doctor needs to know to come to an accurate diagnosis.
What Else May Happen?
The doctor may order some tests or ask you to perform some activities either in the office or at home.
- The doctor may order blood samples to be taken. Some offices perform this service; others send you to a separate office for this procedure.
- Your blood pressure will be taken.
- The specialist may ask you to record certain information in a journal.
- The doctor may suggest lifestyle changes to reduce migraine pain. For example, he or she may suggest getting eight hours of sleep, avoiding caffeine, reducing stress, or exercising regularly.
- Brain imaging tests such as a CAT scan or MRI may be ordered to rule out other causes of pain.
- Over the counter pain, relievers may be recommended or suggested.
- Prescription medications may be ordered to prevent migraines from occurring as frequently or reducing their severity.
These are things that commonly take place on a first visit. CAT scans and MRIs may take place at other facilities. You will book a return appointment to go over the results.
How to Describe Your Migraines
When you describe your migraines to your doctor, include the following information:
- Who else in the family get migraines besides you?
- What does the migraine feel like? Is it on one side or alternate sides? Is it worse on one side? Where is the pain located: the front, back, or side of your head or behind your eyes?
- When do you get migraines? In the morning, afternoon, evening, anytime? Do you ever wake up with a migraine? Are you more likely to get a migraine during the workweek or on the weekend?
- Why do you get migraines? Have you identified any triggers, activities that seem to precede your migraines? Weather changes, plane flights, and drinking wine are common triggers for migraines.
Keep a migraine diary to record this information for at least a week or more. Create a monthly calendar with the information showing your frequency and severity of symptoms. Once you begin therapy, you can record your response to it. Data is one of the most important things you can bring your doctor to help determine an accurate diagnosis and prove the effectiveness of various treatments.
Gather your medical history and records, including conversations with family members about their medical history. If your primary care doctor uses an electronic medical record application and is on the same network as the migraine specialist, some of that information may already be available. Write notes on your printouts to remind you of data.
Also, come with questions for your migraine specialist, no matter how they sound to you. Questions tell us you are engaged in your journey to good health.