If you get headaches frequently, then you may benefit from one of many tests for migraines, cluster headaches, or other chronic headache condition. In order to identify the cause of headaches that occur every week or more, your doctor may request blood tests, brain scans, or screening for other comorbid illnesses that may mask the symptoms of migraine headaches. Here are some common tests for migraines that doctors use in diagnosing chronic headaches.
Migraines are generally characterized by intense, throbbing headaches that occur on one side of the head. A migraine attack may last for hours or days, and often cause other ailments, such as severe nausea, vomiting, eye pain, fatigue, and dizziness.
If you suffer from migraines with aura, a condition that produces stroke-like symptoms minutes before the headache strikes, then your headache specialist will need to conduct various tests for migraine sufferers in order to rule out life-threatening conditions such as brain tumor, heart disease, stroke, or meningitis.
Below are some tests used to diagnose chronic headaches, including migraines:
- Brain scan- Frequent headaches may result from migraines, but can also signify a brain tumor, infection, or aneurysm. An MRI or CAT scan will indicate the presence of any serious condition such as meningitis or stroke that requires immediate treatment.
- Blood or urine tests- Sometimes, constant headaches may result from an underlying condition such as diabetes, thyroid disorder, or allergies, which can be detected through blood or urine testing.
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) – An EEG is necessary to check for epilepsy, a condition that is sometimes comorbid with migraines with aura.
- Eye testing- Even if you have been diagnosed previously with migraines, it’s important to have your eyes checked; often, vision problems contribute to frequent headaches.
- Neurological exam- Migraines are a neurological disorder, so a visit to a neurologist is crucial in order to track symptoms such as fatigue, painful tingling in the extremities, muscle pain, headaches, vertigo, and speech impairments.
- Spinal tap- Lumbar puncture, involving the withdrawal and testing of spinal fluid, is often recommended for migraine sufferers, in order to evaluate brain and spinal cord integrity.
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