Healthy Living

Migraines: What to Expect During Your Visit with a Neurologist

Migraines: What to Expect During Your Visit with a Neurologist

Key Takeaways

  • What to expect when you visit a neurologist
  • Preparations before meeting the doctor 
  • When it is time to schedule an appointment

What Are Migraines?

Migraines are a condition that countless people live with, and often do not seek treatment for. They are severe headaches that come in episodes lasting around 2 to 72 hours. If you have migraines, you may also experience other symptoms such as vomiting, vision problems (seeing blind spots and high sensitivity to light), sensitivity to sound, and body weakness.

Migraines are a recurring condition, and can often happen multiple times per month or per year. There are two types of migraines: migraines with aura, which are rare, and migraines without aura. It is common to treat migraines by using over-the-counter painkillers. However, in some cases migraines may be severe even after taking these medicines. This can be a sign of chronic migraines or other complications.

Incurable, unpredictable, and severely debilitating, living with migraines is not easy. Fortunately, with medication and lifestyle changes, migraines can be effectively managed. Each person’s migraine attack is different from the other. The severity, frequency, and even the duration of an attack differs from person to person. Even the triggers leading up to a migraine are considerably different. For some, coffee may be a trigger, while for others coffee may just ease the pain. Thus, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of migraines. Even though the reason for migraines has not yet been determined, certain factors have been identified as triggers.

While you may not be able to get rid of migraines, doctors can help treat the symptoms. Proper treatment of symptoms can make a life with migraines easier to live. Often mistaken for an allergy or a medication side effect, migraines are frequently ignored despite the excruciating symptoms. However, it is in your best interest that you consult a doctor. Seek attention immediately if you think you may be displaying symptoms of a migraine attack.

Who is a Neurologist?

A neurologist is a doctor who specializes in headaches and brain-related problems. Neurologists can sometimes be found in large hospitals, in their specific department. Other neurologists can be found in a certified clinic. A neurologist carries out the medical examination of a patient and works to provide the right diagnosis and treatment.

In case the recommended treatment is not working well, or you have unusual symptoms, your doctor will recommend consulting a neurologist.

When Should You See a Neurologist?

Before going over what to expect from a neurologist, let’s first consider when it is time to make an appointment with this type of specialist.

Here are some factors you should consider:

  • If you are experiencing migraine headaches at 50 years of age
  • Having headaches two or more times in a week
  • Experiencing headache pains after injuring your head
  • Experiencing severe neurological symptoms like dizziness, confusion, nausea, vomiting, and blurry vision
  • Severe headaches even after undergoing treatment
  • If headache pains make it difficult for you to work
  • If your headaches interfere with your speech
  • If your headache is getting worse, not better, with time and treatment

Questions to Expect from a Neurologist

Neurologists use your history as a very important tool in diagnosing you. Before a neurologist conducts any tests, they will require you to give a comprehensive history of your past experiences with migraines. Some of the things you should know before you visit a neurologist include:

  • When you started having migraines
  • Factors that aggravate your migraines
  • Factors that reduce your migraines
  • The relationship between your migraines and sound or light
  • Your typical sleeping habits
  • For women, any link between menstruation and your symptoms
  • The relationship between certain foods and your symptoms
  • Family history of the condition
  • Frequency of symptoms

It is advisable to maintain a migraine diary to record not just details of your attack, but also the setting leading up to the attack like the food you ate, weather, activity, or any change in routine. The diary helps the doctor understand your case better and suggest a more effective treatment plan. It also helps identify reactionary triggers.

Depending on the what the doctor suspects, he or she may order diagnostic tests like blood tests, spinal fluid tests, and imaging tests.

How Should You Prepare Before Visiting a Neurologist?

Depending on the type of response you expect from a neurologist, you may not know how to fully prepare for your appointment. Here are some of the steps you should take before seeing a neurologist.

List All the Symptoms You Typically Have

It is important that you make a note of all the symptoms you are experiencing, even if they seem unrelated to your migraine attacks. Nothing should be considered too small or insignificant. It is important to be honest in your interaction with the neurologist, doing so will assist them in better evaluating your circumstances.

List Any Medications You Have Been Using

Don’t just include the medication that you may be currently consuming for the migraine, but also mention your regular dose of vitamins and supplements. In case you have gone through a surgery or treatment recently, make sure you inform the doctor about it.

Take Note of Any Important Factors You Might Have Noticed

Include anything that stands out as a change in pattern, like stress.

Before you visit a neurologist, you can also write down any questions you may want to ask. These may include:

  • What triggers migraines?
  • What tests am I supposed to have?
  • Are my migraines a recurring condition?
  • Can my migraines be a chronic condition?
  • What are the effects of my previous medications to my condition?
  • Are there any other causes for my migraine symptoms?
  • Is this the only approach possible or are there any alternatives?
  • Do you recommend any dietary or lifestyle changes? If yes, please elaborate.

These questions are simply guidelines to initiate a conversation. Depending on the answers, you can ask additional questions. Don’t be hesitant and ensure you clarify all your doubts.

The Bottom Line

Visiting a neurologist opens up a better path for proper treatment. To help a neurologist construct the best possible treatment plan, you should be ready for your appointment and provide the correct information.