What is a Migraine Diary?

Alex Paul

One of the biggest problems with treating migraines is that the triggers are often difficult to discover. Migraines can be caused by a wide range of different things from stress to a certain type of food. A migraine diary is a simple technique that a patient can use to keep track of his or her migraines. These diaries can be used to record when migraines occur, what could have caused them and how severe they are. Over time this can make pin-pointing the exact cause much easier for the patient and doctor.

A migraine diary allows an individual to keep track of their migraines.
A migraine diary allows an individual to keep track of their migraines.

Although an ideal migraine diary would keep track of everything the patient has eaten, how long he or she has slept and what activities he or she has undertaken on a daily basis this is rarely practical. For this reason a migraine diary usually involves the day of the week, date, level of pain and the location of the pain. Other symptoms should also be recorded including any discomfort.

People who experience frequent migraines should keep a "headache journal" that may help them determine environmental triggers.
People who experience frequent migraines should keep a "headache journal" that may help them determine environmental triggers.

Whenever the patient suffers from a migraine he or she should also write down some potential triggers that could be analyzed later. These may or may not be correct, but over time a pattern may begin to emerge. Triggers may also be indirectly discovered by analyzing the information about when and where the migraines occur. For example, if it is later discovered that the patient regularly suffers from migraines during summer months on weekends then this may be a sign that the migraines are being caused by excess exposure to the sun.

Along with the pain suffered by a migraine patient a migraine diary should also keep track of any treatments that he or she tried to soothe the symptoms. For example, this might include taking pain killers or getting a relaxing massage. If the patient can also include information about the effectiveness of the treatment then this can also help to narrow down the problem. Treatments should be included in the diary whether they are successful or not.

Other information that could be added to a migraine diary includes menstrual cycles, duration of the migraine and what the person was doing when the migraine started. The sleep patterns at the time of attack can also be useful in tracking down potential problems. It’s important for a migraine patient to strike a balance between a journal that is simple and quick to fill in but at the same time provides enough information to be useful when a doctor is trying to diagnose the problem.

The triggers of a migraine are often difficult to discover.
The triggers of a migraine are often difficult to discover.

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