Talking to Your Doctor About Your Migraine

Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on March 12, 2023
3 min read

When you get migraines, it's important to work with your doctor to get relief. You can go to your primary care doctor, or you can see a doctor that specializes in treating headaches, called a neurologist.

Go to your appointment with as much information as you can. Be prepared to ask and answer lots of questions. Getting the most helpful treatment depends on good communication between you and your doctor.

Keep a headache diary. Note when you get migraines and what triggers them. Write down which medicines you take, the level of pain you have, and how long the headaches last.

Write down symptoms. Make a list of any symptoms you have, even if you don’t think they have anything to do with your migraines.

Make a list of medications. Write down any prescription or over-the-counter drugs you take for headaches. Include any medicines you take for other conditions. Add vitamins and supplements, too. Include the doses and how often you take them.

Know your history. Be prepared to tell your doctor when the headaches first started and if there's someone else in your family who has migraines. Think back on all the treatments you've tried (both medicines and lifestyle changes) and which ones have helped and which ones brought side effects. For preventive meds that are taken daily to reduce migraines, your doctor will want to know the highest dose you took and how long you took it. Talk about any major stresses or recent life changes.

Family planning. If you are pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant, or breastfeeding, tell your doctor.

Your doctor will likely do a physical exam and ask about your migraines and medical history. Be prepared to answer questions like these:

  • When did you get your first migraine?
  • How often did you get them when they first began?
  • Did anything trigger the first headache?
  • How many days each month do you have them now?
  • In an average month, what percentage of your headaches are mild, moderate, and severe?
  • Do you have signals that warn you a headache is on its way?
  • After the headache ends, do any symptoms hang around? What are they? How long do they last?
  • What triggers your migraines or makes them worse?
  • Does anyone else in your family have migraines?
  • What symptoms do you have? How severe are they? Do you have nausea or vomiting? Are you sensitive to light or sound? Do they hit you at a certain time of day?
  • How long do your migraines last?
  • Do they keep you from your daily activities?
  • What makes your migraines better? What makes them worse?
  • What medicines have you tried? Have you tried treatments besides drugs?
  • Have you ever had a brain CT or MRI?

Learn as much as you can while you’re with the doctor. Make sure they answer these important questions:

  • What medicines do you suggest I take?
  • What side effects could I expect?
  • How long will it take for them to work?
  • How will I know they're working?
  • What should I do if the medicines don't work? What are some signs that they aren't working the way they should?
  • Are there any drugs I should avoid because they might make my headaches worse?
  • Could nondrug treatments like supplements, acupuncture , or biofeedback help me?
  • What can I expect from my treatment plan?
  • Are there any lifestyle changes I can make, such as diet, meditation, or exercise?
  • Will my migraines go away?
  • Are there any tests I need?
  • When should I see you again?