One of the simplest and most powerful ways to take charge of your health is to keep track of everything related to your Migraines. A good headache specialist will want to see a Migraine diary, which should include dates and duration of your Migraines, severity of pain, other symptoms, triggers you are aware of, could also include amount, times and quality of sleep, foods eaten, medications used. Your doctor cannot know if treatments are effective without this kind of information. Keeping a migraine diary is as important for you as it is for your doctor. Knowledge is power, remember? The knowledge you have about your own body, your own processes, gives you power.

By tracking Migraine triggers, you can notice new triggers and learn to avoid and eliminate some of them. Gaining some control over your Migraines is a process that will take time – if you have a 5% improvement per month, in a year you would have only 56% of the migraines you have now. Think what you could do with all those pain-free days! But how will you know if you’ve had a 5% improvement if you haven’t kept track? We need something objective to measure against, rather than just our feelings. Your own Migraine brain is unique, and your triggers, combination of triggers, Migraine patterns, and what is effective to treat them, will not be exactly like anyone else’s. You must be the master of that information.

There is another reason to keep track not only of your Migraines and the factors that affect them, but also of the effect they have on your life. If you ever find yourself in a position where you need to apply for disability, this information becomes very important. You will need to show that you have been unable to work, or unable to perform functions of daily life, for a certain period of time, and the more documentation you have of that, the better. If your doctor doesn’t ask you about it, be sure you tell your doctor how many days of work you miss due to Migraines, and ask him or her to put that information in your medical records. If you are asking either an insurance company or a government benefits program to grant you disability and you don’t have this kind of documentation, you will have a very hard time. You will be in the best position if you have medical records of your disability as well as your own records of your disability.

How should you do it? There are a number of migraine diaries available online. I use a form I’ve created that let’s me see both the calendar and specifics for each day. Use anything that has enough flexibility to put in additional factors as you develop the need to track them. What’s most important is to develop a habit of recording everything. Start with the basics – Keep track of Migraine:

* dates
* time of onset
* severity (use a 1 – 10 pain scale or create one for yourself)
* duration
* aura if you have it
* any other symptoms that come before the migraine
* triggers you are aware of
* your sleep patterns
* hanges you make in medications
* diet
* nutritional supplements
* supportive therapies such as acupuncture, massage, exercise, stretching, yoga or meditation.

Whatever you use, be sure to keep all your important papers together. A loose-leaf notebook works well; you can get folders to put inside it to keep medical records and prescription forms in, diary pages. You can keep questions you have for your doctor, or instructions if you need to go to the emergency room, and take the notebook with you to any appointments. This way everything is always in one place.

When you track your Migraines this way you can see trends and patterns, you can see what your unique brain responds to, and you can make the changes that can reduce your Migraines.

Author's Bio: 

Megan Oltman is a migraineur, an entrepreneur, and a Migraine Management Coach, helping migraineurs and people with chronic illness manage their lives, keep working, start and maintain businesses, and live purposeful lives. She also practices as a professional divorce mediator. Over the years, she's been a practicing attorney, a free-lance writer, and a business coach and advisor. Megan has a free Migraine management course, The Six Keys to Manage your Migraines and Take Back your Life, available at Her writings on Migraine and more tools for managing life with Migraine can be found at