When we visit our doctors we sometimes find it difficult to get all the information we need during a 15 minute appointment. We get flustered, forget what we wanted to ask, get stuck trying to listen to every word the doctor says to us and often come out with more questions than we went in with. To help with this, here are some things that you might want to consider before your next visit.
Ten Questions to ask your Doctor
If you’re heading for the GPs and Neurologists for a little help here are ten questions that you might find useful during your appointment.
- What do you think is causing my problem?
- What are my treatment options? How effective is each option?
- What are the benefits/drawbacks of each?
- Will these treatments interact with other medication I am taking?
- Could any other medications I’m on be contributing to my headaches?
- If my symptoms get worse what should I do on my own?
- What should I work on for my next visit?
- How many patients like me have you treated?
- What can I do to prevent this from happening again too soon?
- When should I have a follow-up consultation?
Ten Questions when beginning a new treatment
If you’ve recently been diagnosed, you may be despairing about having migraine, knowing that there is no cure and struggling with the different treatment options available. First of all, let me assure you that you are one of about 600,000 sufferers in Ireland, so you are most certainly not alone.
If you are a long-term migraineur, and are exploring new treatment options, then these questions might prove equally as useful to you.
- How does this medication work?
- How long will it be before can I expect to see results?
- What type of medication is it?
- What are the common side effects?
- Are there any risks to taking this medication?
- Should I let you know if any side effects start to occur?
- Must I avoid other medication while being on the one prescribed?
- Am I being started on the lowest dose?
- What is the next step if this doesn’t work?
- Is it safe to drive or work while taking this medication?
Ten ways you may be able to help your Doctor
If you’ve been experiencing migraine and cannot treat it yourself with over the counter medication or pain-relief, then you can take note of the following in your diary, which over time may provide you with the answer to some of your questions, as well as giving the doctor some very relevant information.
- If headache is a symptom – note the;
- location, duration,
- severity (from 1 – 10),
- characteristics (dull, throbbing) – download a diary to help
- What do you think is bringing on or triggering attacks?
- What, if anything aggravates or relieves them?
- How long have you had these symptoms?
- How frequently and how regularly do you get them?
- Do or have other family members experience migraine or similar symptoms?
- Are headaches preceded by a warning such as yawning, fatigue, visual distortions?
- Are your attacks related to menstruation/activity?
- What medication do you currently take, or have you tried in the past?
- Have you suffered a recent head trauma or a fall?
Ten things to keep in mind
- Medication can take a while to kick in and will not necessarily improve things immediately, so be prepared to give it a chance to work
- Don’t stop taking prescribed medication on your own. If your prescription runs out, ask the doctor if it needs to be refilled or not.
- If you experience any side-effects contact your doctor or pharmacist straight-away
- Always ask your doctor for your test results, never assume that everything is fine if you haven’t heard from them
- Let your doctor know about any alternative or non-prescription treatments you may be trying or intend to try
- Ask what the long-term outlook is with or without treatment
- Increase your own knowledge and that of your friends, family and colleagues of your condition so that everyone knows how best to help
- Speak to your pharmacist about your medication or any worries you might have
- Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. If you’re not happy with the diagnosis or you feel that the doctor is not as knowledgeable as you would like, don’t be afraid to see another. Many doctors will refer patients on if they’re not sure themselves. Contact MAI – we keep a list of health professionals who have an interest/skills/knowledge of dealing with migraine.
- Become a supporter of the Migraine Association of Ireland. Come to our events (when they’re back up and running), join our online events, look at our website and social media for up-to-date information or subscribe to our ezine. We can provide you with information leaflets, migraine diaries, contact details of clinics and other health professionals with expertise in migraine and other headache disorders