6th May 2021

Why Keeping a Migraine Diary is Critical for Chronic Migraine

Last Modified: June 11, 2022

If you are struggling with migraines—or suspect that you are—the first step to getting the proper treatment is tracking the pattern of the headaches and other symptoms you may be experiencing. This can be accomplished using a migraine diary. The diary can also help identify possible triggers as well as track the effectiveness of any medications or treatment options you’re taking. But exactly how do you maintain a migraine diary? In this post, we answer that question and share 4 key benefits of keeping a migraine diary (especially for people suffering from chronic migraines). But first:

chronic migraine patient

How To Keep a Migraine Diary

The first step is to determine if you like a pencil-and-notebook kind of approach or prefer a more digital-oriented strategy. For those old-school folk among us, there are many free migraine templates available online. All you have to do is find the appropriate one, download, print it, and you are good to go.

If you prefer the tech way, there are many different advanced migraine diary and tracking apps on either the iPhone or Android store. You can choose between free or paid options. But the most important thing to look out for is a high user rating, a user-friendly interface and the capability to generate easy-to-read reports that can be shared with others, such as family, friends or your doctor. Some well-known examples of free migraine apps include Migraine Buddy or Migraine Monitor and paid versions such as Manage My Pain Pro that require you to pay a one-off or subscription fee.

Whether you choose a printable template or app, the most important thing is to ensure you maintain the diary as carefully as possible. Generally, the more detailed the log, the better and more helpful it may be. It may also help fill it in over 3-4 months to develop a better understanding of your migraines. Tracking migraine episodes over a minimum of 3 month period is necessary for diagnosing a chronic migraine condition.

Some important information to note in your migraine diary:

  • Note when the date and time of day the migraines occur and how long they last. This eliminates the need for guesswork as you try to remember later when the migraine started.
  • Describe the severity (how bad the attack was). How to do this is a matter of preference. Some people prefer to record their migraines as either mild, moderate, or severe, while others prefer to use a scale from 1-10, where 10 is the worst pain you can imagine
  • Deduce possible factors that may have triggered the attack, like stress or particular food, as well as more subtle culprits, like a co-worker’s strong perfume or a sudden change in the weather. By looking for patterns, you may find that it’s not one specific trigger but a combination of factors. That being said, it’s important to note that this is not always possible as not all migraine triggers are easily identifiable.
  • Highlight the treatment or medication taken, describing if this provided relief or resulted in any side effects.

Major Benefits of a Migraine Diary?

  1. Keeping detailed records of migraine episodes can provide additional insight about potential triggers and how to tackle them. For example, women might find the diary helpful in determining if there’s a relationship between their menstrual cycles and migraine episodes. A word of caution, spending too much effort trying to identify triggers can make you very anxious. In some cases, this may do more harm than good as anxiety has been marked as a potential trigger in some individuals.
  2. Many doctors ask patients to complete a diary daily, weekly, or monthly and bring it in for their appointments. This can help them make a diagnosis and assess whether your treatment regimen is working (at Dr Aesthetica, we recommend Botox as a safe and effective treatment for chronic migraines). 
  3. Empower yourself. Migraines can often leave a person feeling helpless. However, by making a migraine diary a part of your regular routine, you gain back a bit of that control. It will give you a better understanding of your nagging migraines and hopefully saves you some lost productivity.
  4. There are apps that also automatically factor in details, such as changes in weather, noise, or air pressure, which might lead to a migraine. Such features have made tracking migraine episodes much easier and more accurate. The result is a more precise and holistic treatment course leading to a reduction in attacks and improved quality of life.

Manage your Migraine Better

It’s simple to keep a migraine diary. All you need is a simple migraine template or smartphone app. Remember, a useful rule of thumb is the more detailed the diary, the better.

Did you find this information helpful?

Please take a moment to check out our Botox Treatment for Chronic Migraines.

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Dr Aesthetica is a Medical Aesthetic Clinic offering professional Botulinum Toxin, Dermal Fillers, Profhilo, Microneedling, Skin Peels and Advanced Home Skincare treatments in the Birmingham area.  Our aim is to solve your Aesthetic and Cosmetic related issues with non-surgical interventions.
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