The Importance of a Headache Diary by Dr. Mary Jane Chiasson

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Headache diaries are a useful tool in the management of chronic and episodic headache disorders. Diaries can be used to track the frequency, duration and severity of your headaches, as well as helping to identify triggers. They can also help your health care provider better understand your headaches and optimize your treatment plan.

To the individual who has a headache it is an obvious problem that needs to be dealt with immediately.  To the provider, however, it is very difficult to get a clear sense of the frequency, severity, duration and interventions taken for each headache without some sort of record of these events. 

When I care for people who have chronic, recurrent headaches, I ask them to maintain a headache diary so that when they return I can review the frequency of the headaches, as well as the frequency and duration of the headache free time, which in many cases is even more important because this is what we are trying to achieve. 

I also work with individuals to try and improve how medication is used, which often requires an understanding of timing and duration of headaches. A diary is invaluable in this situation.

Another helpful aspect of a diary is the insight it gives to the headache sufferer into the frequency of their headaches.  Many patients tell me that they have headaches one or two times per month. However, when I ask them to maintain a headache diary, it becomes clear they are having headaches several times a week.

It is important to maintain the headache diary and keep accurate records in order for it to truly play a beneficial role in your care. Patterns identified from a headache diary may help your doctor determine the type of headache you are experiencing and the most beneficial treatments.

For more information about headache causes and treatments, please visit our web site at or call 612.879.1000.

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