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We will take a full medical history to help diagnose your headaches. This is the first and often the most important part of headache diagnosis. We will ask questions about the type of headache pain you experience, including:
Diagnosing the Type of Headache
The crucial distinction we make when diagnosing a headache is determining whether it is a primary headache or a secondary headache:
- Primary headaches, the most common type of headaches, are painful, but not dangerous. A primary headache is not a symptom of an underlying disease or condition. For primary headaches, headache trigger trackers and headache diaries can be effective tools to help diagnosis the cause of your headaches.
- Secondary headaches are characterized by excruciating pain, usually caused by another, more serious, condition.
Headache Diagnosis: Advanced Diagnosis Techniques
In addition to medical history, we may use advanced diagnostic techniques to identify your headache pain. These tests are especially effective in helping to diagnose secondary headache pain. This may include:
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), a blood test that can detect inflammation
- CT scan
- Digital subtraction angiography, a minimally invasive test that uses X-ray and iodine contrast to produce picture of blood vessels in the brain
- Spinal tap, to determine bleeding in the brain or the presence of bacterial or fungal infection
Once we diagnose the type of headache you have, we can tailor an effective treatment plan. Learn more about headache treatment.