It is estimated that approximately 14.7% of the worldwide population suffers from migraines. Migraines occupy the third spot after tension headaches and dental caries.
Migraine represents a chronic condition in 2% of the population, affecting women in a larger percentage than men (hormone-related). Maintaining a migraine diary helps in determining underlying causes and helps manage symptoms better.
For every million people, there are approximately 3000 migraine attacks that occur on a daily basis. People experience a migraine attack at least once per month, leading to disability and inability to perform daily tasks. Present from puberty, it is, however, most common in middle-aged adults and it can lead to increased healthcare costs. (R)
A migraine diary is a faithful record of your migraine attacks
If you frequently suffer from migraines, you might consider creating a migraine diary. In this, you can record every aspect related to your migraine attacks, helping the treating physician come up with the best treatment plan. By recording such information, you will learn to recognize triggers and warning signs. Moreover, in the situation that you have already been prescribed treatment, you can assess if the medication is working or not.
There are migraine tracker charts that you can download from the Internet and use for such purposes. Or, if you want, you can use an app such as CareClinic. The health app can be used as a headache diary, among other things. You can record when the symptoms have started and how often they occur. You can mention the location of the pain and how it feels. As an example, you might suffer from a “throbbing”, “stabbing” or “piercing” migraine.
Within the migraine diary app, you can record any other symptoms associated with your migraines, such as nausea, vomiting or vision problems. You can mention the duration of each migraine attack, the treatment you took and how effective it was. Be sure to add the part of the head which hurt during the attack, and use specific words when describing the pain.
Finding connections between your migraines and daily life
Perhaps the biggest advantage offered by the CareClinic health app is that you can be as detailed as you want. You can record and form connections with aspects of daily life, discovering what makes your migraine worse and what actually improves your manifestations. For instance, a migraine can be brought on by certain foods. You can record this through the nutrition section so this data is structured in reports. Alternatively, you may also choose to write in your health diary as part of your check-in. Both forms work and CareClinic renders this data sorted by date in the Reports section.
You can organize an entire treatment plan within the application. This includes medication taken for other conditions, supplements, vitamins etc. You can add your sleep schedule, level of physical activity, social and work-related activities. You can even mention the weather and details about your menstrual cycle, as both are highly likely to influence your migraines.
Thanks to the diary, you might notice triggers you never thought of, such as bright, flickering lights or strong noises. In some people, migraine attacks are dependent on the season (cold), change of time zone (travel), altitude (higher altitudes), changes in the daily routine, erratic sleep schedules, new diets or strong smells.
Migraines can be brought on by a major event in one’s life, such as loss of a spouse/partner, separation or divorce; relationship difficulties, job stress, losing one’s job or house. Even positive events can lead to migraines if they are associated with high levels of stress. (R)
Migraines in women
Women, studies say, are far more likely to suffer from migraines in comparison to men. This is, of course, related to hormones and the menstrual cycle. In following your migraine attacks, you might discover that not only the actual cycle is to blame but also ovulation. Women who have been prescribed hormone replacement therapy, as well as those who take oral contraceptives, are at higher risk of migraines as well.
Migraines and sleep
Did you know that migraines often appear after sleep? Or that even one can become awake as a result of a migraine? Migraines can appear in relation to sleep, food and other activities, so it is essential to keep track of everything. Mild to severe migraines can be induced by stress, which is considered to be one of the most common triggers. The lack of sleep and hormonal imbalances lead to similar problems, so using an app to understand potential triggers is quite clever. It allows for more effective management of your condition.
Being specific and consistent
When creating the online migraine diary, you should try to be as specific as you possibly can. It might be useful to note the things you were doing before the migraine attack occurred; for instance, you might mention skipping a meal. Go back six to eight hours and think about any important elements that might have contributed to the attack.
As you will refer to the monthly migraine diary, you will begin to notice certain patterns and gain a better understanding of your migraine attacks. You will see that there are certain lifestyle choices that act as potential triggers. Thanks to the CareClinic integrated diary, you will stare these factors right in the face, being able to take the necessary measures to avoid or minimize these.
You can look at the CareClinic diary record as a useful resource, which allows you to keep a detailed migraine reference. For example, by recording the medication you are taking, you can find out which drug worked the best over a certain period of time. You can rate the effectiveness of the medication on a scale from 0 to 3, with 0 being no relief, 1 slight relief, 2 moderate relief and 3 complete relief.
If you want to be more precise, you can enter the time the headache started and ended, as well as any warning signs (such as the aura) and rate the intensity of the pain. You can take your time to describe how the migraine affected your normal routine. There are a lot of people who are unable to work or perform daily house tasks as a result of an excruciating migraine. (R)
Be sure to mention whether you were able to continue with normal activities, if certain tasks were restricted due to the migraine or if you were completely unable to perform daily activities. You should also record factors that alleviated your migraine, such as resting in bed, avoiding bright lights and powerful noises, medication, massage, hypnosis, heat/cold pack applications etc. As you will pay more attention to relief solutions, you might also be able to change your lifestyle, so that you reduce the risk of migraines and promote healthy habits.
As previously mentioned, special attention should be paid to the diet. There are certain foods and beverages which can trigger a migraine. The list includes processed foods, including hot dogs and lunch meats, foods with artificial sweeteners, chocolate, coffee (and any other caffeine-based beverage) and diet sodas. Aged cheeses and soy-based products can also serve as triggers. Foods rich in monosodium glutamate, nitrates and nitrites cause migraines as well. (R)
Speaking about triggers, even skipping a meal or failing to drink enough water can lead to a migraine. You can use the CareClinic health app to record your meals, as this will help you observe which foods contribute to migraines (so that you can avoid these in the future).
The migraine management diary offered by CareClinic is one of the most important weapons you have against migraines. It allows you to monitor the frequency, duration and severity of your attacks. As you identify patterns, you can adjust your routine accordingly. You can track medication use, as well as the associated response, offering your doctor valuable information treatment-wise.
How to write a migraine diary
If you are not sure how to write a migraine diary, you can perform a quick search on the Internet. There are printable worksheets that you can download and a form to guide you, containing a simple table for your migraine attacks. A sample migraine log might be useful, but you can always customize the template and include additional details. However, aside from these examples, you can trust the CareClinic health app to keep an eye on your condition (see below how).
In time, thanks to the regular recording of your manifestations, you learn to recognize the warning signs associated with a migraine. For instance, some people feel hungry or have cravings for sweets. Others yawn excessively or become sensitive to noise, experiencing irritability at the same time.
Recording information about your complaints is useful. It can help you determine whether you actually suffer from a migraine or other type of headaches (cluster headache, tension headache). You should use the application as soon as an attack has occurred. This will help you be as detailed and specific as possible. You can trust the app to determine how frequent the attacks are and how much time has passed since your last attack.
Facts about migraine
- Each migraine has four stages: prodrome, aura, attack and post-drome
- A severe migraine can cause temporary vision loss
- In some people, the migraine can be so severe that it has a physical impact. It can prevent one from engaging in everyday activities
- A migraine can last from severe hours up to three days if no treatment measures are taken
- Confusion and fatigue might be present after a more serious migraine attack
- Over 36 million people in America suffer from migraines, with women being three times more affected than men
- Migraine attacks have a genetic component, being part of the family history. If a parent has suffered from migraines, there is a 50% chance that the child will suffer.
- It is possible to experience a migraine without an aura. This is known as the common migraine, as opposed to the classic one (with aura). (R)
Using a Migraine Diary or Migraine Tracker
The CareClinic health app is available on both iOS (iPhone) and Android. It has a user-friendly interface and it is easy to use. There is also a web version available. The app generates monthly reports which can be exported as pdf and shared with the treating physician.
In order to record a new migraine attack, you can enter your account and click on “create post”.
You can then go to “symptoms”, and be as specific as you can.
Once you are done, you click on “save” and the post will be saved for future references.
Reports will be created on the basis of the information you have entered into the application.
You can also set up reminders for the medication recommended for migraine attacks. These can appear in the form of push notifications, or they can be sent through e-mail, text messages.
The care plan for migraine attacks can be reviewed at any given moment.
Learn more about using CareClinic as a migraine journal by watching our short video: