How will I know if it is working?

Importance of tracking


Many people living with migraine disease devise their own diary or log system. It can be as simple or sophisticated as you’d like. Simply writing everything down as it happens in a spiral notebook can suffice. Some set up a form on paper, with labeled blanks as reminders of what to record, to help make sure everything is covered. Some set up a simple spreadsheet on their computers for this purpose. You could go so far as to work up a database with entry forms and sophisticated reporting.

The two main topics to report in a diary: what the attacks are like and what we do about them.

Here are some of the items to cover in a diary or log.

  1. Describe the attack
    If you have several different types of migraines, maybe you can create a legend. Maybe you’ve named them.
    a. Old Cranky Bastard
    b. Hit and Run
    C. Torment
  2. Date and time
  3. Length of attack
  4. Top Level of pain
  5. Location(s) of pain
  6. Any Additional symptoms (teary eye, runny nose, small pupil, etc.)
  7. Triggers that might be involved
    Include Environmental triggers – room temp, weather changes, altitude, location
  8. Any unusual auras or precursors, mood swings, etc.
  9. Immediate treatments used
  10. Long-term treatments being used

Describe the treatments being used

Substance, (include source, how stored, how old, other details)


Other migraine meds used, time and date

Meds for other conditions used, time and date

Non-medicinal treatments used (ice, exercise, etc.)



It helps to see trends and progress when making decisions, and devising charts and graphs can make it easier to help see the status of the cycle and the effectiveness of treatments. This can be as simple as graphing out the daily pain tracker score . Others show the intensity, time and duration of each attack using bars that get longer with time, and colors that change with intensity – light blue for a level 1 to deep red for a level 10 for example.

These visualizations can be done day by day or even attack by attack, or can be worked up from a log or diary well after the fact. All this can be done on a scratch pad with pencil, or on your favorite fancy computer graphing program and laser printed in full color. What really matters is that the visualization helps you think about the disease and its treatment.

Keeping a diary is most pleasant where there is nothing to write. Charts are prettiest when blank.