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Quick Guide to Keeping a Migraine or Headache Diary

Whether you have had migraine and headache for decades, or if your headache is a relatively new occurence, every headache sufferer can benefit from knowing what triggers his or her pain and when it might come back. One of the best ways to predict and prevent future head pain is to record all episodes in a headache diary. Keeping a headache history could help you figure out that your headaches are triggered by foods, lifestyle choices or another underlying medical problem.

Here are a few guidelines to keeping a headache diary:

#1: It is imperative to write down everything you experience. From the exact minute you started to feel pain to a small piece of chocolate you clandestinely ate at the office—there is no such thing as keeping too many details when it comes to headache. Here are just a few key items to record in your headache diary:

    •    When (date and time) the headache started/ended
    •    The activity you were doing when it started
    •    Where you were when it started
    •    The foods you consumed and at what time prior to the headache (if you keep a separate diet diary, you may record everything you eat each day for additional help in tracking your triggers)
    •    The span of your menstrual cycle (for women)
    •    Other symptoms accompanying your head pain
    •    Treatments taken and at what time

#2: It is important to be consistent with your entries. That means you need to record a headache every time you have one, and fill out every field in the diary (from diet to activity) each time. The goal is to monitor your pain and find trigger patterns.

#3: Check in with a physician and keep your diary handy. Having access to your headache history makes a health care professional’s job much easier. Together you can investigate your triggers and figure out how to maintain a healthier lifestyle that will ensure fewer headaches.

Here are a few resources to get you started:

Sample headache diary (WebMD)

Sample headache diary (Doctor Oz)

Reviews of smartphone diary apps (Head Wise)

Do you keep a headache diary? Have any tips to share?

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