Tests and Exams to Diagnose Headaches
If you have typical migraines or a family history of migraine headaches, your doctor will likely to Tests and Exams to Diagnose Headaches, in condition on the basis of your medical history and a physical exam. But if your headaches are unusual, severe or sudden, your doctor may recommend a variety of tests to rule out other possible causes for your pain.
- Blood Chemistry and Urinalysis. These tests may determine many medical conditions, including diabetes, thyroid problems, and infections, which can cause headaches.
- CT Scan.This is a test in which X-rays and computers are used to produce an image of a cross-section of the body. A CT scan of the head may be recommended if you are getting daily or almost daily headaches to rule out other causes of headaches.
- MRI.This test produces very clear pictures, or images, of the brain without the use of X-rays. MRI uses a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to produce these images. An MRI may be recommended if you are getting daily or almost daily headaches. It may also be recommended if a CT scan does not show definitive results. In addition, an MRI scan is used to evaluate certain parts of the brain that are not as easily viewed with CT scans, such as the spine at the level of the neck and the back portion of the brain.
- Sinus X-Ray. Although the CT scan and MRI provide more details, your doctor may use this test if your symptoms seem to indicate sinus problems.
- EEG. An electroencephalogram is not a standard part of a headache evaluation but may be performed if seizures occur with the headaches.
- Eye Exam. An eye pressure test performed by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) will rule out glaucoma or pressure on the optic nerve as a cause of headaches.
- Spinal Tap. A spinal tap is the removal of spinal fluid from the spinal canal (located in the back). This procedure is performed to look for conditions such as infections of the brain or spinal cord. The test can itself cause a temporary headache.
Psychological Evaluation for Diagnosing Headaches
An interview with a psychologist is not a routine part of a headache evaluation, but may be done to identify stress factors triggering your headaches. You may be asked to complete a computerized questionnaire to provide more in-depth information to the doctor.
After evaluating the results of the headache history and physical, neurological, and psychological exams, your doctor should be able to determine the type of a headache you have, whether a serious problem is present, and whether additional Tests and Exams to Diagnose Headaches are needed. Possible additional tests you may be given include diagnostic tests.