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
34 Migraine-Inducing, Stomach-Turning Toxic Chemicals in Perfume
Why do Migraines cause Nausea and Vomiting?
Images, from top:
stephan mantler, Nomadic Lass, startcooking kathy & amandine, Pink Sherbet Photography