Questions A Doctor Will Ask

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Harvard Medical School
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Questions A Doctor Will Ask

Questions A Doctor Will Ask
Questions A Doctor Will Ask
Be prepared to answer these common questions.
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Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Questions A Doctor Will Ask

Certain types of headaches tend to produce the same symptoms in different people. To help diagnose the particular type of headache that you suffer from, your doctor may ask many of the following questions:

  • When did you first develop these headaches?
  • How often do you have them?
  • In what part of your head is the pain located?
  • How long do your headaches last?
  • What is the pain like: Does your head throb? Is the pain a steady, constant pressure? Is it so intense you cannot lie quietly and must move around? Do bright lights or loud noises make your headaches worse? Do you ever feel sick to your stomach after the headache starts?
  • Is there anything that seems to trigger your headaches, such as stress, certain activities or food?
  • What makes your headaches better?
  • Do your headaches interfere with your daily routine?
  • Does anyone in your family have similar headaches?
  • Do headaches occur at certain times of day or night?
  • Do you have other symptoms that accompany or precede a headache, such as changes in your vision?
  • Do you drink coffee or smoke cigarettes? What over the counter medications do you use regularly?
  • If you are female, do headaches coincide with your menstrual cycle?
  • Have you had any recent injuries to your head?
  • What is your sleep pattern?

Determining the nature of the pain is important in recognizing the type of headache and selecting appropriate treatment. A throbbing pain is characteristic of migraine; steady, nonthrobbing discomfort goes along with tension-type headaches; and sudden sharp or burning pain may signal a cluster headache.




Last updated September 25, 2014

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