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Migraine Headaches Diagnosis Treatment Prevention Self-Help

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Updated January 06, 2009

How is migraine diagnosed?

While no specific test can determine whether your headaches are migraine, you can do a lot to help your physician make an accurate diagnosis by keeping a headache journal. Your headache journal should include the location, severity, frequency, and duration of your headaches. You should also make note of any other symptoms that you experience during your headaches, as well as any OTC or prescribed medications you are taking (don't forget herbal products you may be using).

Your physician will compare your symptoms to the criteria for migraine headaches set by headache specialists to determine whether you have true migraine headaches. Not all headaches are migraine -- there are many other types of headache and the efficiency of treatment will depend on an accurate diagnosis of headache type.

Your physician should be informed immediately if...

  • your headaches began after the age of 50

  • a headache begins suddenly or in an unusual way

  • your headaches are increasing in frequency or severity

  • you are a cancer or HIV patient and you have a new-onset headache

  • your headache includes fever, stiff neck, or a rash.

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