One of the wisest and most useful tasks we can undertake is maintaining a comprehensive Migraine and Headache diary.
Today, there are many mobile apps available for use as a Migraine and Headache diary. If you’ve found one that satisfies your needs, wonderful. To date, however, I haven’t found an app that records everything I want to record in the way I want it recorded, so I still use a spreadsheet workbook that I can complete on my computer or print out and fill in.
I’ve come to think of my Migraine and Headache diary as being somewhat like a detective’s notebook because it enabled my first Migraine specialist and me to determine what my Migraine triggers were. It also allowed us to realize that there were roughly 50 percent of my Migraines for which I couldn’t identify a trigger, and look for the underlying condition that was contributing to that 50 percent of my Migraines.
Not only can a well maintained Migraine and Headache diary help us identify our triggers, it can help us track the effectiveness of medications and any patterns to our Migraines and Headaches. There are many ways to do this, but for the purpose of your doctor reviewing it, printed pages are usually preferable to a bound journal. Some doctors also like to keep copies in patient charts. I’m always careful to take copies of my diary pages that track from the time of my previous visit.
Especially if you’re just starting to investigate your triggers, you may want to track additional information such as what you’ve eaten, the weather, your sleep patterns, etc. in a notebook on a daily basis for awhile.
A diary does nobody any good if it’s not used, so I’ve put together some various diary options for you.
- The first diary format is the one I call the “basic diary.” This is a form I developed while working with my first real Migraine specialist.
- For those of you who have pretty complicated days of multiple symptoms, multiple medications, etc., the daily format may work well for you.
- The monthly format works well if you’re down to only a few Migraines or headaches a month. It’s also a good summary diary. You can take your primary diary and summarize it on a monthly format. This may be very helpful if your doctor wants some details, but not as many as you want to record for yourself.
At the end of the workbook, you’ll find a page to jot down questions that may occur to you during a Migraine or headache. Writing them down then and there will help ensure that you remember to take them to the doctor at your next appointment.
Whatever you do, keep learning as much about your Migraines and / or headaches as you can. That knowledge will help you work better with your doctor as a treatment partner where he or she makes decisions WITH you, not FOR you.
Are you ready to start your diary?
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