If you are planning to see a doctor to discuss chronic or recurrent headaches, keeping a headache diary can be very helpful to your physician. The diary is a written record of the characteristics of the headaches, including how frequently they occur, their duration and their intensity. This information can help your doctor determine the type of headaches affecting you and identify any patterns or potential triggers. Having a firm diagnosis and understanding of your headaches is a prerequisite to creating an effective, personalized treatment plan that will provide lasting relief from your pain and discomfort.
Take a moment to learn how to keep a headache diary, as explained by Dr. Ivan Stein of the Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey.
Information to Track in Your Headache Diary
Keep a written log with the following information:
- The date of the headache
- The approximate time of the headache’s onset and when it resolved
- Any activities or circumstances at the time of the onset
- Time of the most recent meal prior to the onset
- How much sleep you got the night before
- Whether you did anything different prior to the onset of the headache
- The intensity or severity of the headache (could be on a scale from 1 to 10)
- The type of pain (e.g., throbbing, piercing, dull, sharp)
- Any symptoms or warning signs preceding your headache
- Where the pain was located
- Any additional symptoms
- Potential triggers (e.g., caffeine, alcohol)
- Medication you took for the headache (including dosage)
- Any other actions taken for relief
- If applicable, the type of response or relief you experienced (e.g., complete or moderate relief)
- Last menstrual period (if applicable)
Your doctor will specify how long you should keep a diary. It may be for a week, a month or throughout the duration of your treatment.
How to Record the Data
There are several ways to keep a headache diary. You can create a Word or Excel document, or record the information on a regular calendar. There are also headache apps, like iHeadache or Migraine Buddy, that you can use on your smartphone or tablet.
When it comes time to review your diary with your doctor, you should also provide them with a complete list of any medications you currently take and any other information about your medical history that may be relevant.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Stein to discuss recurrent headaches, please contact the Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey today.