When Should I See a Doctor About Migraines?

Deborah I. Friedman, MD, MPH, FAHS

It is estimated that less than 50% of people with migraines seek medical attention for them.
How do you know when “it’s time?”

Do you have migraine?

Many people with migraine don’t even realize that they have migraine. If you have headaches that are moderate to severe in intensity, interfere with your ability to function, are associated with sensitivity to light and/or noise, and cause nausea or vomiting, you probably have migraine.

 

Are your migraines interfering with your life?

 

If you miss work, school, social activities, family activities, or are unable to do housework because of your headaches….it’s time.

If you plan your life around your migraines….it’s time.

If your migraine are preventing you from doing what you always wanted to do (going back to school, getting a new job, pursuing a hobby, making plans)….it’s time.

Are your headaches frequent?

If you have migraines on average of once weekly or more….it’s time.

Do your migraines control you, or do you control them?

Your migraines may be infrequent but if you don’t have effective medication to treat them….it’s time.

Do you have headaches more often than not?

People with migraines often have other types of headaches, which may not be as severe or debilitating as their migraines. If you have headaches—migraine or otherwise—more often than not…it’s time.

Are your migraines your distinguishing characteristic?

Do your family and friends identify you by your headaches? It’s time.

Are you self-medicating too often?

You think that you are handling it on your own, but if you are taking pain medication—even over-the-counter medication—more than 2 times a week for migraines and other headaches…it’ time.

Deborah I. Friedman, MD, MPH, FAHS, Director, Headache and Facial Pain Program,University of Southwestern Medical Center,Dallas, Texas