10 Tak­ing Charge in

Ten Steps for Bet­ter Com­mu­ni­ca­tion

Wellness Update - - What Doctors Know And Your Should, Too! - -This in­for­ma­tion pro­vided courtesy of the National Headache Foun­da­tion. headaches.org

Apanel of lead­ing headache spe­cial­ists re­cently con­vened to iden­tify spe­cific steps mi­graine pa­tients can take to bet­ter com­mu­ni­cate with their health­care providers and ob­tain a suc­cess­ful treat­ment pro­gram. Ef­fec­tive physi­cian/ pa­tient com­mu­ni­ca­tion is in­creas­ingly im­por­tant given to­day's time con­straints for of­fice vis­its and the va­ri­ety of new treat­ment op­tions avail­able. 1. Seek help. Be a self-ad­vo­cate. You owe it to your­self. Let go of the bi­ases and guilt--there is no need for you to en­dure headache pain. Un­der­stand that mi­graine is a dis­ease, and deserves the same at­ten­tion and care as any health con­di­tion. 2. Ed­u­cate your­self about mi­graine so you will know what to com­mu­ni­cate to a physi­cian. At­tend sup­port groups and join re­source or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the National Headache Foun­da­tion (NHF); 1-888-NHF-5552. Pay at­ten­tion to news­pa­per, mag­a­zine, tele­vi­sion and ra­dio cov­er­age of mi­graine and ask your physi­cian about what you've seen or heard. 3. Visit a doc­tor specif­i­cally about your headaches. Search for a physi­cian who is in­ter­ested in treat­ing headaches and make an ap­point­ment about your mi­graine. Find out if your pri­mary care physi­cian (fam­ily physi­cian, in­ternists or OB/GYN) treats mi­graine. Con­sider see­ing a headache spe­cial­ist or neu­rol­o­gist. Call the NHF for a state-bystate list of mem­ber physi­cians. 4. Pre­pare for a dia­logue with your physi­cian. Keep a headache diary. Be or­ga­nized, spe­cific, di­rect and ready to talk de­tails. Be pre­pared to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on your headache his­tory and gen­eral med­i­cal his­tory. Track your at­tacks and how you treat them. Note the date, length of each mi­graine, sever­ity, symp­toms, trig­gers and im­pact on your life (i.e., how many days lost from work, how many fam­ily/so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties missed). Track med­i­ca­tion taken, when, for how long and ef­fec­tive­ness in re­liev­ing pain and symp­toms. Get to know your mi­graine pat­terns and trig­gers so you feel more "in con­trol."

5. Have rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tions about treat­ment. Un­der­stand there is no cure for mi­graine; how­ever, the dis­ease can be man­aged with an ef­fec­tive treat­ment pro­gram. Be pa­tient and give treat­ment time to work. Re­al­ize that treat­ment suc­cess will ebb and flow. Be will­ing to lis­ten to your physi­cian and to your­self. Be flex­i­ble, open-minded, and pre­pared to mod­ify your treat­ment as nec­es­sary. 6. Be hon­est about all cur­rent med­i­ca­tions and other med­i­cal con­di­tions. Tell your doc­tor about all your cur­rent ther­a­pies, in­clud­ing pre­scrip­tion, over-the-counter and nat­u­ral reme­dies (b ecause cer­tain med­i­ca­tions in­ter­fere with each other). Share any psy­cho­log­i­cal his­tory or "emo­tional dis­tur­bances" and med­i­ca­tions taken for those now or in the past. 7. Fo­cus on so­lu­tions. Be pos­i­tive. Don't blame your­self; headaches are not your fault. Fo­cus on find­ing the best treat­ment op­tions by work­ing with your physi­cian to find so­lu­tions. 8. Ask for de­tailed in­struc­tions for tak­ing med­i­ca­tion--and fol­low them. Ask for spe­cific in­struc­tions on tak­ing pre­scribed med­i­ca­tion; i.e., how of­ten, with meals or on an empty stom­ach, what to do if a dose is missed, side ef­fects, and what to do if pain and symp­toms per­sist. 9. Part­ner with your physi­cian for treat­ment suc­cess. En­ter into a part­ner­ship with your physi­cian and bridge the com­mu­ni­ca­tion gap. See your physi­cian on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and de­velop a re­la­tion­ship -- treat­ment is a process that works bet­ter with in-per­son vis­its. 10. Fol­low-up reg­u­larly with your physi­cian. Your treat­ment pro­gram will only be as good as the time you in­vest. Sched­ule a fol­low-up ap­point­ment as you con­clude each physi­cian visit. Physi­cians say three months is usu­ally a rea­son­able time pe­riod to eval­u­ate the ef­fec­tive­ness of a treat­ment pro­gram.

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