A medical history is the most important tool a doctor has
to evaluate your headaches. If your child or teen has headaches, the doctor
will want to talk to you and your child. The doctor may also want to talk with
your teen in private to discuss any emotional issues.
during the medical history often focus on your description of your headaches,
their pattern, and whether people in your family have a history of headache
Where does your head usually hurt during a
headache—all over, on one side, or just in one spot? Do you have different
kinds of headaches?
How often do you get a headache? How long do
the headaches usually last? What time of day do the headaches
Describe the headache pain. Is it stabbing, dull, pulsating,
aching, or sharp? Is the pain constant, or does it come and go? How severe is
Do any warning signs occur right before a headache
begins? These might include visual changes (seeing jagged or zigzag lines,
stars, flashing lights or colors, illusions with distorted size or shape),
numbness in your arms or legs, or a sudden feeling of energy, fatigue, hunger,
restlessness, or quick temper.
Do any other symptoms occur with the
headaches? Other symptoms may include fever or chills, lethargy, confusion,
nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, weakness, numbness, vision problems, problems
with walking, or loss of bladder control.
Have you noticed anything
that seems to trigger the headache, such as drinking alcohol, eating a
particular food, or the start of your menstrual period? Do the headaches occur
after physical exertion, such as exercise, sex, coughing, or
What seems to make the headaches worse? What helps the
headaches go away?
Headache pattern and family history
Have you had a recent head injury? Have you had
a recent illness, such as flu, sore throat, or cold? Do you have any
Have you had headaches in the past? Are your headaches
always the same, or do you have different kinds of headaches?
your headaches follow a usual pattern (beginning suddenly, occurring at certain
times of the day or month)? Has the pattern of your headaches changed? Are you
having headaches more often? Has the pain recently gotten worse or
Are you taking any prescription or nonprescription
medicines for your headaches? Which ones are you taking, and how often do you
take them? Do they work? Are you taking medicines for any other medical
Have your headaches affected your performance at work or
school? (School report cards may be a clue for the parents of children with
Have you had any changes in your sleep pattern? Are you
experiencing physical or emotional stress?
Is there a history of
headaches in your family? Family history (genetics) is a very strong risk
factor for migraine headaches.
If a child or teen has headaches, the doctor may also
ask questions about the mother's pregnancy, labor, and delivery; the child's
growth and development, behavior, and school performance; family conflicts; and
any previous injuries or problems with the head. The doctor will also ask
whether the child looks sick when he or she has a headache.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Colin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology
July 7, 2011
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
July 07, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this