There are a number of reasons that your doctor might ask you to keep a migraine diary. If you have been suffering regular and severe attacks there could be a number of contributing factors, and being able to figure out what those factors are is step one to treating the migraines, and possibly even preventing them.
The five main reasons your doctor might have asked you to keep a migraine diary are:
- Track dietary triggers
- Track environmental triggers
- Track severity and length of attack
- Monitor first signs and symptoms
- Measure how effective treatments are
Looking at those reasons more in depth it’s clear why these diaries can be helpful for planning and carrying out treatment for those who suffer recurring migraines.
Tracking dietary triggers.
There are many foods, drinks, stimulants and additives found in our foods which could cause, or contribute to, migraines.
These include, but are not limited to, blue cheese, caffeine, citrus fruits, deli meats, food coloring and alcohol.
Keeping a diary of the foods you consume, and whether they are pre-prepared or made fresh at home, in relation to when a migraine strikes can show patterns in what’s been consumed, and links to what may be causing the attacks are found.
Track environmental triggers
While we can’t control the weather it’s possible that changes in atmospheric pressure, storms or heat waves can cause migraines. If this is tracked and discovered to be the case in your migraine diary you can take preventative steps and medications to stop a migraine developing around your usual triggers.
Environmental triggers also include things like using computers a lot, straining eyesight in dark rooms, fluorescent lighting, stress and anxiety.
Again, tracking these details can lead to discovering your triggers.
Track severity and length of attack
Keeping a diary that details the length and severity of your migraine attack, and comparing that with the details of any environmental or dietary triggers, can show which triggers cause the worst migraines, and which treatments are or are not helping.
Monitor first signs and symptoms
Contrary to what many people believe, migraines aren’t simply ‘a bad headache’. They are a disruption of normal sensory patterns, from ringing in the ears, floaters in the vision, tunnel vision, even temporary loss of vision, through to changes in taste and sensitivity to light and smell.
Often people will begin experiencing early symptoms and changes in sensory perception long before any pain begins, and if these are recognized it may be possible to stave off the pain by treating at the first sign of migraine.
Measure how effective treatments are
It can be a process of trial and error to effectively treat, and prevent, migraines in someone who has suffered them regularly. Some medications work completely, some not at all. Some lifestyle changes can reduce the severity and regularity of attacks, and these in partnership with the right medication can mean a migraine free life.