There's no specific test to diagnose migraines. For an accurate diagnosis to be made, a GP must identify a pattern of recurring headaches along with the associated symptoms.

Migraines can be unpredictable, sometimes occurring without the other symptoms. Obtaining an accurate diagnosis can sometimes take time.

Seeing a GP

On your first visit, a GP may carry out a physical examination and check your vision, co-ordination, reflexes and sensations.

These will help rule out some other possible underlying causes of your symptoms.

They may ask if your headaches are:

Migraine diary

To help with the diagnosis, it can be useful to keep a diary of your migraine attacks for a few weeks.

Note down details including:

Regularly taking frequent doses of painkillers is an important reason why migraines can become difficult to treat. Doing so can cause a medication overuse headache.

Overuse headaches are usually caused by taking painkillers on a long-term basis and not because of exceeding, or just sticking to, the recommended dose.

It'll be very helpful to keep a record of what painkillers you take and how often you take them.

You should not take painkillers on more than 10 days every month in the long term.

It may also be helpful for women to make a note when they start their period, as this can help your GP identify potential triggers.

Read more about keeping a migraine diary on The Migraine Trust website.

Referral to a specialist

A GP may decide to refer you to a neurologist, a specialist in conditions affecting the brain and nervous system, for further assessment and treatment if: 

Page last reviewed: 1 August 2019
Next review due: 1 August 2019