[Healthline] How can symptom monitoring help you with migraines?


Tracking symptoms can be a useful tool to better understand and manage your pain.

For years, I’ve tracked my migraines and triggers to try to better understand my chronic pain.

It’s been a lot of work, but I’m glad I took the time to understand my pain triggers to make sure I’m doing everything in my power to keep my migraines under control.

Track what?

While I’m sure the method of follow-up will vary from person to person, here’s how I track my chronic intractable migraines.

Symptoms, severity and frequency

I’m sure anyone with a migraine is familiar with doctors asking them to rate their pain on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest.

My personal migraine tracking is also on the same scale, it’s completely natural to record my numbers on painful days.

For the first part, I even named my notebook “10: Memoirs of Migraine Survival” because the experience of living with a 10th degree migraine is unbreakable. Breaking has had a profound impact on my life.

In addition to recording the pain scale, I write down the area of ​​pain on my head/neck/shoulder and whether I have nausea, confusion/brain fog, numbness.

For each of those symptoms, I note how often they occur and the duration of each symptom.

Trigger situation

In addition to tracking my pain and symptoms, I often take note of my triggers as needed.

Examples of what I consider a trigger (note that this is my personal term, not a medical term) are weather (changes in temperature and barometric pressure), scent or light (including bright or flashing lights).

Stimulant food

Of all the factors I’ve documented over the years, tracking my eating has proven to be the most eye-opening. The important things I noticed for myself were how much water I drank (or lacked), what I ate and drank before the pain, or whether I skipped meals.

Since then, I have learned that I need to constantly replenish my water and that skipping meals is not an option for me. I always need to have snacks and water bottles on hand.

Sleep and Menstrual Cycle

For years, my migraines made it difficult for me to sleep. So I decided to track the correlation between my sleep duration and my migraines.

I have found that my body responds best to maintaining a consistent sleep schedule (going to bed and waking up at the same time) as well as getting a full 8 hours of sleep each night.

It’s also important for me to monitor myself during my menstrual cycle, as it correlates closely with my migraines.


During trial and error with migraine medications, I have found it helpful to track how my daily pain levels correlate with each new medication.

It was a great way to determine if the new drug would make a difference for me.


All the great migraine apps on the market today have really changed to make it easy for us to track our pain and store all our tracking data in one place.

In my opinion, using the app is the easiest way to gather a lot of information over time with minimal effort. Furthermore, the apps allow you to easily transfer all the data to your doctor.

If you find it too difficult to use an app, consider starting small and writing down your pain scale number each day for a baseline reading. On days when your pain is worse, be sure to jot down any details that you feel are necessary.

It’s hard to get started, but you might learn something new in the process.


In the early years I watched my pain closely, all of these migraine cures didn’t exist. So I have to manually write down all the details of my migraines every day.

Seeing the results on paper proves to be a challenge.

It fails when you feel like you’ve done everything in your power (like avoiding triggers and getting enough sleep) and you’re still seeing 10 seconds a day.

Remember, if you feel uncomfortable viewing your pain tracking results, you’re not alone. It’s a hard thing to see them!

My Lesson

Without a doubt, understanding my migraine triggers was invaluable. With that said, it’s important to note that for me, symptom monitoring is not the solution.

Instead, it provided a way for me to better understand and manage my pain.

(Danielle Newport Fancher is a writer, migraine advocate, and author of 10: A Memoir of Migraine Survival. She’s fed up with the stigma that migraines are “just a headache,” and she made it her mission to change that perception.)

Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/migraine/how-symptom-tracking-can-help-you-find-relief-from-migraine

Author: Ngoc Khanh.

Self-translated article by ykhoa.org, please do not reup.

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