Headaches | Diagnosis & Tests


How are headaches diagnosed?

Your doctor often can tell what kind of headache you have by examining you and hearing your description of the pain. Your description of your headaches will help your doctor make the diagnosis. The time and pattern of attacks are important, so keep a diary of your pain. A headache diary can help you and your doctor know exactly when you are getting headaches, what might be triggering them, and what helps relieve the pain.

 Family members or others who see you during a headache can also help by telling the doctor how you look and act. Don't be embarrassed to tell your doctor about your attempts to relieve the pain (such as banging your head against furniture). These attempts are common, and talking about them will help your doctor judge how severe the headaches are.

 Blood tests, X-rays or brain scans--such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)--usually are not needed to diagnose headaches.


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Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 01/93