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Headache Diary

Topic Overview

Keeping a headache diary may help you understand what types of headaches you get and what treatment works best for you. You also may be able to find out what your headache triggers are, such as certain foods, stress, sleep problems, or physical activity. Take your headache diary to your doctor. Together you can look at your headache history and look for patterns to your headaches.

Headache days

Record each day that you get a headache. Use a pain rating scale from 0 to 10 (where 0 is no pain and 10 is the worst pain you can imagine) to identify how bad the headache is. Put the number for how bad the headache is in the time of day when it happened. For each day you have a headache, also record how much disability you had on a scale from 0 to 3 (where 0 means you were able to continue to do your normal activities well and 3 means you had to either miss work or school at least part of the day or had to go to bed for part of the day). An example of a monthly chart follows.

Month:____________________

Day of the month

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

How bad is your headache?

Morning

                

Afternoon

                

Night

                

Disability for the day

                
Month:____________________

Day of the month

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

How bad is your headache?

Morning

               

Afternoon

               

Night

               

Disability for the day

               

Medicines to stop a headache

List the medicines that you take to STOP a headache (such as pain medicine or triptans). For each medicine, note how much of the medicine you took on the day you had a headache and how much relief the medicine gave you. Rate your relief from 0 to 3 (where 0 is no relief and 3 is complete relief). An example of a monthly chart follows.

Day of the month

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

Medicine 1:___________

Dose

                

How much relief?

                

Day of the month

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

Medicine 1:____________

Dose

               

How much relief?

               

Day of the month

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

Medicine 2:___________

Dose

                

How much relief?

                

Day of the month

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

Medicine 2:____________

Dose

               

How much relief?

               

Day of the month

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

Medicine 3:___________

Dose

                

How much relief?

                

Day of the month

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

Medicine 3:____________

Dose

               

How much relief?

               

Medicines to prevent headaches

List the medicines, if any, that you take to prevent headaches (such as a beta-blocker or anticonvulsant). For each medicine, note every day that you took it. An example of a monthly chart follows.

Day of the month

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

Medicine 1:___________

                 

Day of the month

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

Medicine 1:____________

                

Day of the month

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

Medicine 2:___________

                 

Day of the month

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

Medicine 2:____________

                

Other treatments

List any other treatments that you use for your headaches. This may include massage, relaxation therapy, vitamins, herbs, and other natural health products.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

Menstrual period

For women, note the days you had your menstrual period. An example of a monthly chart follows.

Day of the month

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

Menstrual period

                 

Day of the month

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

Menstrual period

                

Triggers

List your four most common triggers. Then, for each day you get a headache, write in the number of the trigger that you think may have caused your headache.

  • Trigger 1:
  • Trigger 2:
  • Trigger 3:
  • Trigger 4:

An example of a monthly chart follows.

Day of the month

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

Triggers

                 

Day of the month

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

Triggers

                

Health care visits

Record when you went to the doctor or to the emergency room, when you were hospitalized, or when you saw any other health care providers (such as a massage therapist, acupuncturist, or chiropractor).

Health care visits

Date

Who/Where

Date

Who/Where

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

Credits

Current as of: August 4, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine