How to Effectively Communicate with Your Doctors About Migraine Headaches 
By Jennifer B. Buckley 

There is no other pain quite like it and you arenít even sure which bothers you more, the throbbing, vomiting, nausea or seeing spots. Symptoms of migraine headaches can be so excruciating, that you find yourself or your loved one taking unusual measures to get some relief like laying face down on cold bathroom tile. It may provide a temporary break from migraine symptoms,but as soon as you attempt to become active, the pain comes shooting right back. Migraines can last for days or weeks disrupting you or your job, family life, or social life.

Over 28 million Americans suffer from reoccurring migraine headaches and 70 percent of that statistic are women. Unfortunately, more than half of migraine sufferers go undiagnosed by a physician, according to the National Headache Foundation (NHF), a non-profit organization. It is unclear why migraine pain is triggered, but 145 million workdays are lost because of it. Known factors that contribute to the onset of a migraine include: fatigue, bright lights, hormones, stress or foods.

With the growing number of people living with migraine pain, primary doctors are becoming increasingly more informed about migraine headaches and treatment options available. As a patient or caregiver, you can incorporate better communication with your health-care provider to achieve a winning treatment program for yourself or your loved-one. The National Headache Foundation released 10 specific steps to communicate better with health-care providers. 

  1. Donít be hesitant to seek help- There is no need for you or your care recipient to suffer with migraine pain when new treatment options are available. Itís about enhancing the quality of life. 

  2. Seek out information about migraine headaches so you can communicate more effectively with your doctor- There are a variety of sources that provide information about migraine pain on the web including: The National Headache Foundation at or call 1-888-NHF-5552. 

  3. Make a doctorís appointment specifically about you or your loved-oneís headaches- Find out if you or your care recipientís primary doctor is informed about migraine headaches and treatments. If not, you may want to seek out a headache specialist or neurologist. 

  4. Prepare to converse in detail about you or your care recipientís headaches. Consider keeping a log- Be ready to tell you or your care recipientís physician when you get migraine headaches, how long they last, events prior to migraine onset, symptoms and severity of pain. Note any missed workdays or social engagements due to migraine pain. If medication is prescribed, track the effectiveness in pain relief and for how long.

  5. Have realistic treatment goals- Be advised that there isnít a cure for migraines but management of them is possible. Stay open-minded when working with your physician about trying new treatments. Treatment success could wane or surge so prepare to modify it. 

  6. Be upfront with your physician about all medications you are taking or any medical condition- In order to prevent adverse drug reactions, inform your doctor about all prescribed or over-the-counter medications you are taking. 

  7. Stay optimistic about your treatment- Donít give up and focus on collaborating with your doctor to find a solution, it may take time. 

  8. Read and ask your doctor questions about all prescription medication you or your care recipient has been prescribed- All prescription medication comes with instructions that are extremely important to know regarding: when to take it, dosage, if you need to take it with water or food, etc. Ask your physician about anything you donít understand. 

  9. Form a partnership with your physician concerning treatment success- Success of the treatment works better with regular visits with your physician and open communication lines. 

  10. Check in regularly with your doctor- The effectiveness of your or your care recipientís treatment depends on the time you invest and follow-up visits. Make your next appointment before you leave the office. (Physicians usually recommend three months between visits). 

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