A migraine is a chronic neurological disorder that causes severe pain on one or both sides of the head. It is often accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and vomiting. Some people who suffer from migraines experience a visual disturbance or warning, called an aura, shortly before chronic migraine symptoms occur. Migraines can seem to come out of nowhere, but many are triggered by an event, stress, food or beverage, hormones, weather, or other environmental conditions.
By keeping a migraine diary, migraine sufferers can look for trends in their migraines and what triggers tend to cause them. It helps migraine sufferers get better control of their migraines and can even help to prevent them in the future. Every detail about the migraine should be recorded in the migraine diary, including what was happening before, the exact time of day, and for women, where they were in their menstrual cycle.
Let’s take a look at the top five benefits of keeping a migraine diary.
Better doctor-patient communications
People who have kept a migraine diary have benefited from the improved communication and medical care they received from their doctor. A study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health reported that 72 percent of patients who kept a migraine diary had improved communication with their doctor. Another 70 percent of patients felt better with the care provided by their doctor after beginning to keep a migraine diary. To provide optimal chronic migraine treatment, physicians need to know details surrounding a patient’s migraine, including the time it started, how long it lasted, any additional side effects, known triggers, the location of the pain, if any treatments helped, and how they felt after it was gone.
Sharper recall of reliable information
It is often difficult for individuals with migraines to remember exactly what occurred just before the migraine hit. The intense pain and disorientation is partly to blame. By keeping a migraine diary, a migraine sufferer can start recording information as soon as he or she feels the onslaught of the migraine. Migraines tend to get more severe with time, so it is important to write down the details when the pain first begins.
Improved tracking of medication effectiveness
There are multiple types of medications prescribed for the chronic migraine treatment and prevention. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to tell which are most useful without keeping close track of them. A migraine diary can alleviate this conundrum by having the migraine sufferer track what medications they take and when, and over time see if they had decreased migraines after taking those certain medications. It is possible that with the migraine, the sufferer finds one medication that works better than the others.
Increased personal comfort
Migraines are often debilitating and the frequency of the pain and additional chronic migraine symptoms can really weigh heavily on the sufferer. By keeping a migraine journal, patients have a place to express their emotions before, during, and after a migraine event. It actually works to provide personal comfort and eases some of their emotional stress. This can have a full circle effect because it can help reduce the stress trigger that led to the migraine in the first place. Think of migraine journaling as similar to how individuals with depression or anxiety keep a journal they write in when they are experiencing severe symptoms or intense emotions. It calms them and can even help subside a severe panic attack.
Enhanced tracking of migraine triggers
Last, but certainly not least, has to do with migraine triggers. One of the most significant benefits to using a migraine diary is to identify and track various triggers. Many people with migraines develop them after a certain trigger, though it is often hard to figure out exactly what these triggers are. Some common triggers are emotional stress, environmental conditions, hormones, diet, sleep disturbances, and physical changes. Experts recommend that the sufferer jot down anything they did or experienced in the time before they started having the migraine and look for patterns over a period of time. It is important to note that these triggers don’t actually cause the migraine, but have an effect on the person’s neurological condition, which then leads to a migraine. It is also possible not to have triggers, though many people do end up noticing patterns, particularly when they use a migraine diary to keep track.
By keeping a migraine diary, you not only help to identify migraine triggers, but are working with your doctor to derive a solid treatment plan to reduce the frequency or severity of your migraine, and in some cases eliminate them altogether. Over time, migraine sufferers find a migraine diary an incredibly useful tool in preventing the frequency of their migraines and positively dealing with them when they do experience them.