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Use a Headache Diary to Aid Migraine Headache Treatment

HeadachesMay 12, 10

Migraine sufferers know that the symptoms of migraine headaches can last for hours or even days. Finding a migraine headache treatment is often a priority for sufferers. One strategy for dealing with migraines is to attempt to identify the causes of migraine headaches. This can often be accomplished using a headache diary.

Migraine Triggers

Doctors know that migraines can be triggered by a variety of factors. The Mayo Clinic website lists these factors, which include:

  * hormonal changes (in women),
  * foods (for example, alcohol, aged cheeses, chocolate, monosodium glutamate, proceeded foods)
  * stress,
  * sensory stimuli (bright lights or sun glare, loud sounds, strange smells),
  * changes in waking and sleeping patterns (too much or not enough sleep),
  * physical factors (intense exercise or sexual activity),
  * changes in the environment (changes in weather or the barometric pressure), or
  * medications.

So for migraine sufferers, one way to treat the headaches is to try to determine the causes and then avoid those things that are migraine triggers. Keeping a headache diary can help a sufferer in tracking, identifying, and avoiding some of the causes of migraine headaches.

Headache Diary
The headache diary can be as simple or complex as the migraine sufferer wants to make it. The basic information to track in a headache diary would be the:

  * Date headache occurred
  * Warning signs (vision problems or aura, for example)
  * Pain (intensity and location)
  * Treatment used (and the effectiveness of the treatment)
  * Hours of sleep before the migraine started (too much or too little)
  * Activities before the migraine started
  * Foods eaten before the migraine started
  * Hormonal changes (for women)

An internet search for “headache diary” will provide a listing of headache diary forms ready for use. Here are three sample diaries. Although the layouts are a little different, each tracks much of the same information. Migraine sufferers could use one of these, or make a custom diary for themselves.

By tracking this information over a period of days, weeks, or months, the migraine sufferer might be able to see a pattern that led to each migraine occurrence. It could also be useful to share the diary with the health care provider, who might see patterns of migraine triggers that the patient does not see. If a migraine headache trigger is noticed, then adjustments can be made in diet, sleep, or activities that will help to reduce the frequency or severity of the symptoms of migraine headaches.

mayoclinic.com, “Migraine - Causes” (accessed 5/10/10)

The copyright of the article Use a Headache Diary to Aid Migraine Headache Treatment in General Medicine is owned by Donna McKinney. Permission to republish Use a Headache Diary to Aid Migraine Headache Treatment in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.


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