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    Asking right questions leads to better headache diagnosis

    Ophthalmologists can keep certain queries, mnemonics in mind to track and treat


    Diagnosis is key

    One reason that headache diagnosis is so important—aside from the obvious reason of identifying serious health-related problems—is that headache types such as migraines are underdiagnosed, Dr. Gordon said.

    “About 75% of patients who come to a doctor because of headaches will have migraines,” she said. “It’s the most commonly underdiagnosed headache type we see.”

    Blog: 5 reasons why physicians still have the best profession

    When migraine patients go to the emergency room, only one-third are actually diagnosed with migraine, and fewer than 10% receive migraine-specific therapy.

    Dr. Gordon calls those statistics a travesty, but also noted that ophthalmologists who devote extra time to headache care can become heroes in their office when they make the right diagnosis.

    To help pinpoint a migraine diagnosis, Dr. Gordon recommended asking three questions:

    1) Are you nauseated when you have a headache?

    2) Have you missed a day of work or something else you’ve wanted to do in the past 3 months due to a headache?

    3) Does light bother you when you have a headache?

    Dr. Gordon said patients who experience simpler tension headaches that do not reach the level of a migraine will just take over-the-counter pain relief instead of seeking help from their physician.

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