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Do You Need a Migraine/Headache Diary?

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Migraine  related image Photo: Getty Images

In a previous article, I addressed how important it is to identify migraine triggers. But now you may be wondering how to keep track of these so-called triggers and more importantly, why?

If migraines effect your quality of life and you are reading this article, you are obviously looking for answers. More than 30 million Americans suffer with migraines and researchers are still looking for answers. There is no "one treatment fits all" solution because of the many different triggers. To find the best treatment, you should narrow down the possible reasons by the process of elimination. That's where the headache diary can help.

Here are some suggestions for what to include in your headache diary:

1. the date
2. time started
3. time ended
4. area of pain (left side of head, back of head, etc.)
5. type of pain (throbbing, shooting, vice-like, etc.)
6. intensity (mild, moderate, severe)
7. triggers (foods, weather, stress, hormonal, etc.)
8. aura (yes, no, what, where)
9. medication or alternative remedies
10. events (from night before or leading up to it)

You can make your diary as simple or as elaborate as you would like, but the idea is to compare notes from one episode to the next. For instance, after five migraines you might notice that you ate chocolate the night before. You may want to eliminate your chocolate intake for awhile to see if this your primary trigger.

It's also beneficial to have easy access to your diary. I created mine on Excel in my laptop, but I try to write it on the note pad by my bed and enter it into my diary later. You might want to get a journal and label it "Migraine Diary". One of the sources below has a download application for your cell phone. How easy is that?

It doesn't matter what format you use; the idea to keep good records for yourself or your doctor.

Below are sources for downloadable files and information:


Reviewed June 7, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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