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What to track in a headache diary

What to Make Note of In Your Headache Tracker Diary

Keeping tabs on the details could help prevent future headaches.

A headache diary can be a great tool to help better understand and manage your headaches. Noting details like headache symptoms, warning signs, length and severity can help your doctor diagnose your pain and suggest headache treatments and lifestyle changes that can help you find relief. 1 Here are some of the more important data points to jot down when a headache strikes:

Time: Write down the date and time of day the headache started, and when it ended. If you’re a woman and this is around the time of your period, note that as well, you might be experiencing a menstrual migraine. 2 3

Note warning signs and symptoms: Did you experience vomiting, throbbing, vision problems or anything else during the headache? Did you experience any signs of aura — visual disturbances like zig-zags, flashing lights, or loss of vision — in the lead-up to the attack? 4 If so, how long before the headache took place did they start? (Aura may indicate a migraine, and your doctor will surely want to know.) 5 6

Type of head pain: Describe the pain. Is it piercing, throbbing, splitting, stabbing, dull, or blinding? Did it come in waves, or was it constant? These can be important in properly diagnosing and treating your headaches. 7 8

Intensity of head pain: Rate the pain on a level from low (1) to severe (10). 9 10

Where the pain is located: Note if it’s between the eyes, in the back of your head, over one eye or in a specific location. 11 12

Headache treatment or medication taken: Whether you took any meds, tried relaxation exercises, or did something else to get relief, describe it here. 13 14

Effect of headache treatment: Did the measures you took to relieve the head pain work? If so, how many minutes passed before you experienced pain relief? Also note particular treatment combinations that may have worked better or worse than others. 15 16

Sleep: Write down the number of hours you slept the night before and how well you slept — were you tossing and turning, or did you sleep like a rock? 17 18

Diet: Jot down the foods you ate and drinks you had before the headache and include your diet from the day before, too. 19 20

What happened before your headache: Were you stressed at work all day or all week? Did you just finish a strenuous workout?21 22

Click here to download a headache diary. Suffering from Migraines? Here’s how to keep a migraine diary.

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