Patient Blogs | Migraine
How It Helps Me to Keep a Migraine Journal
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Do you keep a migraine journal? You should. While nothing in the migraine world is foolproof, a migraine journal is a great way to help identify your triggers. They are also extremely valuable to your doctor.

There are plenty of apps to help you track your migraines. I use a couple, but I know a fan favorite is the free version of the iPhone app, "Migraine Buddy."

It's user-friendly and asks pertinent questions about your pain level, activities, and medications. It takes about a minute to fill in an entry. And one feature people really like is that you can easily export existing reports. I recommend searching in the App Store or the Android version for "migraine" to find the best app for you.

During the beginning of my diagnosis, sometimes my migraine episodes would trigger when I was on the computer; I thought maybe it was eyestrain. Other times, I would wake up with one (the absolute worst). So it was hard for me to pinpoint my triggers.

My doctor told me anything could be a trigger. It could be pressure, sinuses, or dehydration (flying is terrible for that). Or maybe someone near me was wearing strong perfume or cologne that triggered an episode. So keeping a log helped my doctors help me, and it could work for you.

Through your journaling, you may notice that 24 to 48 hours before a migraine starts, you may feel exhausted, irritable, depressed, nervous, or restless. Now apps aren't for everyone. Some people prefer to track their migraine on paper. Here are a couple of critical points to monitor.

Time: When did your episode start and end? I also note whether I'm menstruating. 

Warning signs and symptoms: Did you have vision problems or vomiting?

The intensity of head pain: Rate the pain on a level from low (1) to severe (10).  

Did you take any medications? Which ones, how much, and how often? 

Treatment: Is there a combination that works for you better than others? 

Sleep: Write down the number of hours you slept the night before and how well you slept.

Diet: Jot down everything you ate and drank from the day of the attack and the day before. 

Were you under any stress? Reflect on what was happening in your life before your migraine episode started. 

Remedies: Did you try any combinations that helped? Did anything make it worse?

I found my pain levels increased based on my routine. For example, a full day of video editing on my desktop usually led to at least one full day stuck in bed in pain.

I also track the weather. For me, trouble brews if there's a sudden change in the weather such as barometric air pressure, storms, or hurricanes (I live in South Florida). On the other hand, I can usually tell when rain is coming 1 or 2 days beforehand, or if it's raining near me, where I live. 

Record as many things as you can remember, even if they don't seem related. A detailed history will help your migraine doctor make a solid diagnosis and create an effective treatment plan.

Tap into a community of fellow migraineurs on Facebook. Learn, share, connect in our Migraine Support Community.



Photo Credit: vitapix / E+ via Getty Images

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Naki Carter

Naki Carter

Diagnosed since 2001

For nearly 20 years, Naki Carter has been living with migraine. Formerly an award-winning journalist, she is committed to ending the stigma around the invisible illness. Carter lives in South Florida near lots of family and friends, where she enjoys a daily dose of “vitamin sea.” Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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