Record your symptoms to improve migraine management
No matter what you call it—headache journal, migraine diary, headache tracker—keeping track of your symptoms can be a versatile tool to help better manage migraine. This information can be gathered in multiple ways, from physical journals to smartphone apps to digital spreadsheets. There is no wrong way to record your migraine symptoms—simply find a way that works best for you and stick with it.
The longer you track your migraine, the more you will get out of your headache journal. Over time, patterns may begin to appear, helping you to understand your triggers, how medications affect you and more. One of the major benefits of tracking your migraine symptoms is that you will be able to share the information with your healthcare provider, helping to improve your treatment strategy.
We asked our Move Against Migraine group members to share how they record their migraine symptoms. Read on to learn more about migraine journals.
Different types of headache journals
Tracking migraine symptoms can be done in many ways. The most common response from group members was that they track their migraine in a smartphone app. Move Against Migraine member Michelle says that she “adds notes and time stamps to say when the pain increases and decreases or if I needed to take another dose of medications.” When she went to the emergency room for her migraine, she says “the app made it easier for them to treat me appropriately. I even handed my phone with the app open to a current migraine…to tell them what medications I took and when I took them.”
A spreadsheet is a good option for those who want to record more details. One member, Ashley, uses a spreadsheet to track the symptoms and severity of her migraine attacks. “I timestamp and record severity and symptoms in a notes app on my phone and ‘plug and chug’ into a spreadsheet,” says Ashley.
Another way of tracking migraine is through a written headache journal. These can be as in-depth as you wish, detailing your sleep, food and symptoms across the day or just noting when your migraine symptoms begin and end. Move Against Migraine member Steven began his migraine journal in 1998 and has recorded all of his migraine attacks since. “Since my condition reached chronic in 1998, I have [kept] a diary that I try to record how I feel and how I respond to treatments as often as possible,” said Steven.
As a support group, Move Against Migraine is a community open for those living with migraine to advocate on behalf of themselves, understand treatment options, access resources to manage migraine symptoms and connect with leading doctors and researchers. Learn more about the group here.
Reviewed for accuracy by the American Migraine Foundation’s subject matter experts, headache specialists and medical advisers with deep knowledge and training in headache medicine. Click here to read about our editorial board members.