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If you've been having frequent headaches, your doctor might send you to a neurologist to figure out what's causing them and to prescribe a treatment. A neurologist is a brain specialist who treats many diseases of the brain, nerves, and muscles. It's important to see a brain specialist for your headaches so they can rule out any serious causes that need emergency treatment. Here's what you might expect when you see a neurologist.
Begin A Diary Of Your Headaches
If you're not already keeping a diary of your headaches, your neurologist may ask you to begin. If there's a waiting period before you can see the brain specialist, you may be instructed to start on your diary so you have as much information as possible for your neurologist to study.
In addition to tracking when you have headaches and their severity, track your diet, additional symptoms you have, stressful situations that arise, and when you have your menstrual period if you have one. This could help your doctor link your headaches to hormones, high blood pressure, or food triggers.
Your neurologist may want you to have medical tests, such as an MRI, to look at the structure of your brain, an EEG to look at the electrical activity in your brain, eye exams, sinus X-rays, and blood tests to look for clues that lead to the cause of your headaches. It may take days to complete the tests and get the results back, so your doctor may want you to continue with your diary until your next appointment.
There are a number of medications that can treat migraines. Some are painkillers that you take when your head starts hurting and others are medications you take every day to prevent a headache from starting. Your doctor will choose the medication that's the best match for you, but it may be necessary to switch medications around until the best one is found for your symptoms.
Treat Medical Conditions
If it turns out that a medical condition like high blood pressure is linked to your migraines, you may need to treat the condition so your migraines are managed too. You might need to avoid certain foods as well if your diary shows you have headaches every time you eat them. By treating your medical conditions and avoiding your triggers, you may be able to keep your headaches under control and reduce the number of flares you have.
Try Botulinum Toxin Injections
Botulinum toxin injections are sometimes used to treat migraines, so you may want to discuss their use with your brain specialist. The injections keep the muscles relaxed in your forehead and prevent a headache from starting. They work best for people who have frequent migraines, so if you only have a few headaches a month, your doctor may not recommend them for you.
Contact a local neurology clinic, such as North Texas Neuroscience Center PA, to learn more.