The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. The cause of a headache can be difficult to determine. The doctor will ask about the frequency and pattern of your headaches. To help provide answers, keep a diary of:
Tests to determine the cause of headaches include:
Often, tests are done to rule out causes of your headaches.
Guidelines for All Doctors in the Diagnosis and Management of Migraine and Tension-Type Headache. 2nd ed. London, UK: British Association for the Study of Headache (BASH); 2004.
Headache—frequently asked questions. National Headache Foundation website. Available at: http://www.headaches.org/education/Tools_for_Sufferers/Headache_-_Frequently_Asked_Questions. Accessed November 7, 2012.
International classification of headache disorders. Cephalalgia. 2004;24:1-160.
International classification of headache disorders. Cephalalgia. 2005;25:460-465.
May A. A review of diagnostic and functional imaging in headache. J Headache Pain. 2006;7:174-184.
NINDS headache information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/headache/headache.htm. Updated September 2012. Accessed November 7, 2012.
Sahai-Srivastava S, Desai P, et al. Analysis of headache management in a busy emergency room in the United States. Headache. 2008;48:931-938.
Last reviewed December 2013 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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