Posts Tagged ‘migraine journal’
Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
If you want to lose weight, then you need to write in a food diary. Likewise, if you want to lose migraine headaches, then you need to keep a migraine headache diary. It’s no joke- Writing in a migraine journal is an effective way of tracking your migraine symptoms, determining your migraine triggers, and finding everlasting migraine relief.
What good is a migraine diary?
A migraine diary is a valuable patient-doctor tool. If you see a headache specialist or neurologist regularly, then you need to keep him updated on your progress with migraine treatments. Instead of committing it all to memory, take a few minutes each day to write down important details like dosage information, headache severity, and foods you ate that day. Include as much information as possible- what might seem like a trivial detail to you could be an important clue to your doctor in determining your migraine triggers and finding you the right migraine remedy.
Migraine journals help you trace your triggers. There are hundreds of migraine triggers in this world, from food ingredients, to hormonal fluctuations, to the weather. Trying to solve the migraine trigger mystery can be overwhelming and time consuming. The best way to make sense of your migraine symptoms is to take a scientific approach, by logging into your migraine diary every day. In a few months, you will have a day-to-day chronicle of your migraines- how often they strike, how long they last, and how many migraine-free days you had. In time, you and your doctor will be able to piece together this information and gain a better understanding of your migraine brain.
Does stress cause migraine headaches?
Don’t confuse the trigger with the gun. It’s important to note that migraine triggers like stress don’t directly cause headaches; rather, they set the stage for a migraine attack to occur. Stress doesn’t cause migraines any more than it causes heart palpitations or alcoholism. The more migraine triggers you have, the more likely you are to have a migraine attack. And the more stress you have in your life, the more likely you are to suffer from hypertension, depression, and anxiety. In order to keep migraine frequency to a minimum, you must identify all your migraine triggers and eliminate them, whenever possible.
What details should I include in my migraine diary?
A complete migraine diary contains a brief history of your migraines and a daily/monthly checklist.
The National Headache Foundation advises noting the following in your migraine history:
- Earliest age when you first started having migraines
- Frequency of your migraines, including times of day, days per week, and duration
- Location of pain
- Words you would use to describe your head pain
- Correlation with menstrual cycle
- Any known triggers, like foods, lights, scents, weather changes, temperature, activities, eating habits, sleep schedule, etc.
- Symptoms that precede your migraine headaches
- Family history of migraines
- Any strange symptoms like migraine aura- visual disturbances, partial blindness, olfactory hallucinations
- Variations in headache types
A monthly migraine checklist contains specific information, including:
- Actual time your migraine started and ended
- Pain intensity
- Complete symptoms, like nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, etc.
- All medications taken that day, in what amounts
- Effectiveness of medication
- Mood before headache
- Level of disability because of migraine
- How much sleep you had the night before
- Foods you ate before the migraine
- Stressful events that occurred that day
- Menstrual period
- Any extra comments that might be useful later
Where can I download a migraine diary template?
The internet is loaded with excellent resources for migraineurs. If you have an iPod, iPhone, or iPad, then you have your choice of dozens of migraine diary apps on iTunes. Read this- Manage your Migraines from your iPad or iPhone- Five Useful Tips
If you’re more old school, then download this excellent Migraine and Headache Diary Workbook from Help for Headaches.com.
Please tell us…
Have you been successful in tracking down migraine triggers by using a migraine diary? Were you able to find a better treatment for your migraines because of it? If you know anybody else who suffers from migraines, please share this post!
Read more about migraine triggers
10 Clues your should Include in your Headache Diary Today
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Why do Migraines cause Nausea and Vomiting?
Images, from top:
stephan mantler, Nomadic Lass, startcooking kathy & amandine, Pink Sherbet Photography
Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
Manage your migraines by changing your lifestyle. Here are 20 tips on eating healthy, reducing stress, and finding the right migraine management tactic. Change your life, one step at a time!
- Mind your blood sugar. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is a common migraine trigger. Avoid eating sugary foods, as that will cause your blood sugar to rise temporarily, before dipping back to abnormally low levels again. Opt instead for foods that have natural sugar and dietary fiber.
- Keep things fresh. Cook your meals using fresh fruits and vegetables over canned or freeze-dried. Frozen veggies, however, are okay- they have the same healthy nutrients as the broccoli and carrots on the fresh produce aisle.
- Avoid phony baloneys. Cut artificial sweeteners and food colorings out of your diet, or at least reduce your consumption of artificially flavored treats, such as diet soda, candy, and Cheetos. Often, foods containing synthetic ingredients cause allergic reactions or headaches.
- Don’t go trigger-happy. Avoid the temptation to indulge in foods that you know for a fact trigger migraine headaches; think about the aftereffects, instead. Invest in a good migraine cookbook.
- Take notes. Unsure about potential headache triggers? Invest in a migraine journal- studies show that keeping track of your eating habits, feelings, and environment in a headache diary is instrumental in diagnosing migraine triggers.
- Take your meds. Stay on top of your migraine medications, and renew your prescriptions on time- all the better to avoid an unnecessary trip to ER.
- Think fast. Feel a headache coming on, but you’re not sure? Don’t wait for a full-blown migraine attack to ruin your day. If you get a migraine aura, respond accordingly.
- Think ahead. Whether you’re going on a 3-day vacation or just a long drive to the city, be prepared for the possibility of a migraine; carry a migraineur’s first-aid kit, map out nearest pharmacies and ERs, and make your backup plan before going out the door.
- Eat frequently. Let’s face it- migraines are not flexible. Any fluctuations in your eating habits will likely result in crippling head pain. Eat small healthy meals throughout the day, and don’t let more than three hours lapse between snacks.
- Sleep tight. Changes in your sleeping habits are also common migraine attack triggers. Migraine sufferers who take naps in the middle of the day or sleep in on their day off usually wake up with a head pounding “weekend headache.” Adhere to a strict sleep schedule by waking up at the same time each morning, and going to sleep at the same time at night. Don’t take a catnap, and don’t change your sleeping hours when on vacation.
- Lose a couple. Try to keep your weight down to a healthy level through diet and exercise. Studies show a correlation between obesity and migraine.
- Keep fit. Exercise improves the mood, regulates your cardiovascular system, keeps blood flowing smoothly, prevents chronic illness, and fights depression. Some excellent activities for migraine sufferers and other patients of chronic pain are yoga, tai chi, spinning, and light aerobics.
- Gain a new perspective. Keeping your hopes up, thinking positive, and not taking life too seriously are all traits that are common among people who eventually overcome their chronic illness symptoms.
- Take a break. Schedule some time just for yourself, and use it doing something you love that puts you in a good mood. Take a ceramics painting class, treat yourself to a relaxing massage or aromatherapy session, or just lose yourself in a used books store. It’s a great way to alleviate stress, rejuvenate, and collect your thoughts.
- Say ohm. Learn how to calm your mind through meditative exercises, such as Hatha yoga and progressive relaxation. Meditation takes practice at first, but eventually you will learn how to slow your breathing, transport yourself mentally, and find your inner peace.
- Try going dairy-free, just once. Sometimes, people suffer from allergic reactions to lactose for years without even knowing it. Lactose intolerant individuals often suffer migraine-like head pain that disappears once they cut dairy products from their diet. Try it for a week, and see what happens.
- Manage stress. Stress is the leading trigger of migraine headaches, in addition to innumerable other chronic illnesses. Avoid stressful situations whenever you can, practice healthy stress-relieving tactics, and learn how to cope with the stress in your life that just won’t go away.
- Stay connected. Millions of Americans suffer from migraine illness, so there’s no reason to suffer alone. Find out about any neighborhood migraine clinics or meetings. Check the internet for migraine forums, migraineur blogs, and “migraine awareness” advocacy sites like the American Headache Society.
- Educate yourself. Scientists make breakthroughs in migraine cures and headache remedies every year. Stay informed about your current migraine treatments, including side effects and dosage information.
- Open your mind to nature. Conventional migraine medications aren’t 100% effective, or without risks. Many like Topamax cause side effects such as brain fog and memory loss. Some popular natural ingredients for for migraines include herbs such as butterbur extracts and vitamins and minerals, such as riboflavin and magnesium.
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Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
Do you keep a migraine journal? If not, you should. The amount of seemingly unrelated headache triggers that cause migraine headache attacks sometimes seems endless. The only way to prevent migraines is to nab your culprit by thinking like a detective. Jotting down notes in a headache diary is the most efficient, scientific method for tracking down your headache triggers and terminating them for good.
11 Headache Triggers you Never Thought Of
Here are the 7 most important clues you should log into your migraine relief diary:
1) Time and date: No detective worth his salt would forget to take down the exact time and date of the attack.
2) Severity of head pain: On a scale of one to ten, how bad was your discomfort?
3) Duration of migraine symptoms: Did your headache last for 30 minutes, 2 hours or 2 days?
4) Possible associations: This is where you really need to put on your thinking cap. Possible links are weather, strong scents, oversleeping, not sleeping enough, bright lights and long hours in front of the TV. Migraines Caused by Eye Strain? Tinted Glasses can Help
5) Nausea: Did you experience feelings of nausea, stomach cramps or the need to vomit? These are important clues, because they could signal migraines with aura, which have been linked with strokes.
6) Medications: Which kind of pain medications did you use? What drugs did you take after? If you take serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) antidepressants, then you should avoid certain pain relievers, like Advil, aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Read more: New Study Warns against Taking these Painkillers with Antidepressants
7) Diet: Food triggers are the most talked-about causes of migraines. A lot of ex-headache sufferers claim to have found migraine relief by sticking to a gluten-free diet. The most common foods which are notorious for producing migraine headaches are aged delicacies (wine, cheese, dried salami), nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers), caffeinated beverages, sugarless sodas, preservatives (MSG) and dairy products. 10 Golden Food Rules for Chronic Pain Sufferers
8) Exercise: Did you get any light exercise today? One of the most difficult challenges facing migraineurs is to get out of the darkened bedroom, get some sunshine and go out for a quick walk. Easier said than done, but even small doses of aerobic exercise contribute to your well being. Relieve Your Headaches With Yoga: Try These Moves!
9) Menstrual cycle: Menstrual migraines are nothing new, but sometimes it takes looking through your headache journal to put two and two together. Go back to your log entries from three months earlier. Do you see a connection? Other hormonal fluctuations which should be noted are pregnancy, menopause and perimenopause.
10) Stress level: Stress is the number one contributor to headaches, accounting for 80% of all chronic head pain. Anxiety, nervousness and depression cause the ”fight-or-flight” reaction, muscle soreness, high blood pressure and low community, all of which create head pain, stomach upset and nausea.
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