Keeping a Headache Diary

Which do you prefer, diary or journal? The denotation of the words is basically the same, but lets face it, there are major connotative differences. Diary kind of sounds like something a teenaged girl keeps track of her crushes in, while a journal sounds like something a novelist keeps track of her ideas in. Whatever you decide to call it really doesnt matter, what does matter is that you seriously consider keeping one.

Migraines headaches have triggers. For most people, narrowing down what that trigger is and successfully avoiding it can seriously curtail the frequency or severity. In some cases it may even lead to never having a migraine again.

Although the hardware involved is generally up to your preference, keep in mind that you may be wanting to show your entries to a doctor, so unless have the kind of penmanship that people tend to notice and comment upon, its highly recommended that you enter the information into the computer so you can print it out.

The trick in keeping a migraine journal is sticking with it. Youre on the lookout for patterns. Patterns that will ultimately link together to form an answer to your question: Why do I get headaches when I do? It may take weeks or even months to reach this answer. Give it time since patterns and correlations dont occur overnight. Keep at it and be specific. Try to write the information down as soon as a headache occurs.

So what goes into a headache diary or journal? The following are guidelines, but each individual journal will probably differ. You may notice things that affect your headaches that other people dont. And even if you notice something that you think couldnt possibly have any effect on your pain, go ahead and record it. You never know, right?

Your headache diary should definitely include information about:

    when the head pains started, including whether there is a pattern to what time of day they generally onset

    the frequency with which your headaches occur

    any other accompanying symptoms such as nausea or visual disturbances

    the duration of the headache and if there anything that seems to affect how long the attacks last

    exact location of the pain

    what kind of pain you feel: throbbing, piercing, aching

    what you eat, trying to notice if there is a consistency in the ingredients

    what time you eat

    what medications you are taking, including any vitamins and other health-related products

    any exercise you do, when and for how long

    how much sleep you get

    weather conditions, especially any significant changes in barometric pressure

Women should record all details of their menstrual cycle, especially anything you may have done differently preceding the attack

Any lifestyle change that occurred during the ten hours prior to the onset of the headache. Some things to be aware of, especially, are things that might have contributed to increasing your stress levels, any change in bowel movement, any change in sleeping patterns, etc.

Be very aware of alcohol consumption and caffeine consumption. Both alcohol and caffeine play a huge part in triggering headaches. Record not only how much alcohol you may have ingested, but also what kind, i.e., beer, wine or hard liquor. In addition, realize that caffeine is not limited to coffee, tea and soft drinks. Sports drinks are loaded with caffeine, as is many candies and gums

Dont worry about getting too explicit, but keep track of your sex life. Women especially need to keep track of whether they achieved orgasm or not in close proximity to the onset of a migraine

When you travel, notice whether certain geographic locations spur headaches or relieve them

If youre the type who feels that keeping a handwritten notebook is just way too medieval and you just absolutely have to engage with technology in order to do something like this, you are in such luck. allows users, for a price, to keep an anonymous online track of their headaches. Additionally, the software will allow you to make nifty little charts and reports that you can print out to help in narrowing down exactly when, why and how your headaches get triggered.