Keeping a migraine diary

A general guide to recording your migraine attacks

diaryWhy keep a migraine diary?

Recording details of your migraine attacks can be useful in:

  • helping the doctor make a firm diagnosis
  • helping you recognise trigger factors and warning signs
  • assessing if your acute or preventative medication is working.

The records may include information on:

  • when the symptoms such as headache started
  • how often they occur
  • where the pain is
  • the type of pain (throbbing, piercing, etc)
  • if there are other symptoms (such as being sick or having vision problems)
  • how long the attacks last
  • what treatment you take
  • how effective treatment is (or isn’t).

It is helpful to record as many aspects of daily life as possible, such as:

  • what and when you eat (think about missed or delayed meals)
  • medication you take for other conditions
  • vitamins or any health products you take
  • how much sleep you have
  • exercise you take
  • social and work activities
  • other factors, such as the weather
  • women should record details of their menstrual cycle.

It is often useful to note if you did anything different prior to the attack such as missing a meal. The 6-8 hours before the migraine attack are particularly important to record.

Diary and records to keep

Monthly diary

By keeping this diary over a period of 2 or 3 months you may see a pattern to your migraine attacks.

The effect of different aspects of your lifestyle on your migraine may also become clear, and you may identify your trigger factors so you can try to avoid or minimise them.

Migraine attack record

This is useful if you want to keep more detailed information about each attack you have. You can use this in conjunction with the monthly record to give more detailed information about each migraine attack.

Record of drugs

With any drug treatment you should keep a record of the medications you are taking. This will give you an idea about the type of drug that work best for you.

Migraine diary for young sufferers

Parents, carers, children and teens can find information about migraine in young people here. This includes information aimed at 7 to 12 year olds and a migraine diary template for children.