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.
Table of Contents
- A migraine diary is a faithful record of your migraine attacks
- Common Migraine Triggers
- Warning Signs of a Migraine Attack
- Migraine Flare-Ups
- Migraines in women
- Migraines and sleep
- Logging Pain Types Effectively
- How to write a migraine diary
- How healthcare providers can utilize your headache journal
- Facts about migraines
- Using a Migraine Diary
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.
Common Migraine Triggers
There are a number of different triggers that can bring on a migraine attack. Some people are more sensitive to certain triggers than others. Being aware of your own triggers is an important step in managing your migraines.
- Stress: Stress at work, home, or school can be a trigger for some people. Managing stress through relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, can help reduce the frequency of migraines.
- Hormonal changes: Fluctuations in estrogen levels during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can trigger migraines in some women. Taking birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy can also cause migraines in some women.
- Diet: Certain foods, such as aged cheese, chocolate, citrus fruits, and red wine, can trigger migraines in some people. Keeping a food diary can help you identify which foods trigger your migraines.
- Sensory stimuli: Bright lights, loud noises, and strong smells can trigger migraines in some people. Wearing sunglasses and avoiding loud places can help reduce the frequency of migraines.
- Sleep: Too much or too little sleep can trigger migraines in some people. Getting regular exercise and maintaining a regular sleep schedule can help reduce the frequency of migraines.
- Weather changes: barometric pressure changes can trigger migraines in some people. Keeping a migraine diary can help you identify when weather changes are a trigger for your migraines.
- Medications: Some medications, such as oral contraceptives and vasodilators, can trigger migraines in some people. Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen can also trigger migraines in some people. If you think your medication is triggering your migraines, talk to your doctor.
- Physical activity: Intense physical activity can trigger migraines in some people. If you think physical activity is triggering your migraines, talk to your doctor.
- Skipping meals: Going too long without eating can trigger migraines in some people. Eating regular meals and snacks can help reduce the frequency of migraines.
- Smoking: Cigarette smoke can trigger migraines in some people. Quitting smoking can help reduce the frequency of migraines.
- Alcohol: Drinking alcohol can trigger migraines in some people. If you think alcohol is triggering your migraines, talk to your doctor.
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.
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.
Warning Signs of a Migraine Attack
There are certain warning signs that can indicate a migraine is about to occur. Being aware of these warning signs can help you take steps to prevent or treat a migraine.
- Visual disturbances: Seeing flashing lights or zigzag lines, or temporary blindness, can be a warning sign of a migraine.
- Sensitivity to light: People who are sensitive to light may experience migraines with aura.
- Sensitivity to sound: People who are sensitive to sound may experience migraines with aura.
- Nausea: Feeling nauseous can be a warning sign of a migraine.
- Vomiting: Vomiting can be a warning sign of a migraine.
- Fatigue: Feeling tired or sleepy can be a warning sign of a migraine.
- Irritability: Feeling angry or moody can be a warning sign of a migraine.
- Craving certain foods: Craving sweets or salty foods can be a warning sign of a migraine.
- Stiffness in the neck: Feeling stiffness in the neck can be a warning sign of a migraine.
- Headache: Headache is the most common symptom of a migraine. The pain is usually throbbing or pulsing and is often on one side of the head. The pain may be severe enough to interfere with daily activities.
A migraine flare-up is a sudden and intense increase in migraine symptoms. A migraine flare-up can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, and can be triggered by a number of different factors. Some common triggers of migraine flare-ups include changes in weather, stress, sleep deprivation, certain foods or hormonal changes (in women).
If you are experiencing a migraine flare-up, it is important to rest in a dark and quiet room. You should also avoid any potential triggers, such as noise, bright lights, or strong smells. If possible, you should also try to sleep.
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, and 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 the loss of a spouse/partner, separation or divorce; relationship difficulties, job stress, and losing one’s job or house. Even positive events can lead to migraines if they are associated with high levels of stress.
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.
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.
Logging Pain Types Effectively
There are four types of pain associated with migraines: Let’s start with Throbbing: Throbbing pain is the most common type of pain associated with migraines. The pain is usually on one side of the head and may be severe enough to interfere with daily activities. Pulsing: Pulsing pain is similar to throbbing pain, but the pain may come and go in waves. The pain is usually on one side of the head and may be severe enough to interfere with daily activities.
Dull: Dull pain is less intense than throbbing or pulsing pain, but it can still be disruptive. The pain may be on one side of the head or may affect both sides. Sharp: Sharp pain is less common than other types of pain, but it can be very severe. The pain may be on one side of the head or may affect both sides. If you’re keeping a migraine diary, be sure to log the type of pain you’re experiencing. This can help your doctor identify the most effective treatment for your migraines.
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 headache (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.
How healthcare providers can utilize your headache journal
The information contained in your migraine diary will help your doctor identify any possible triggers. These can be certain foods, changes in weather, stress, or even sleep deprivation. Identifying the triggers is essential in order to prevent future attacks.
Your migraine diary will also help your doctor determine the most effective treatment for you. In some cases, medication might be necessary. If this is the case, your doctor will be able to prescribe the most suitable medication for you, based on the information contained in your diary.
As an example, a patient that frequently experiences migraines in the evening, after a long day at work, might be prescribed a medication that is to be taken in the morning, in order to prevent the attack. Another example could be if a patient notes that a change in weather is always followed by a migraine attack, the doctor might recommend taking medication as soon as the change in weather is noted, in order to prevent the migraine from occurring.
CareClinic can be your migraine buddy, as it will help you track the progress made in terms of both identifying triggers and finding the most suitable medication. The app can also be used to set up reminders for taking medication, or for appointments with the treating physician.
Facts about migraines
- 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).
Using a Migraine Diary
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 reference.
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, or 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 below or download the app now for iOS or Android by clicking here.