Best way to track migraine data?
August 11, 2012 10:46 AM   Subscribe

My doctor suggested I keep a written diary to try to find migraine triggers. I'd like to improve on the concept and make it digital, trackable, and graphable. What would be the best method to use?

I'd like to be able to track: diet, exercise, sleep, stress levels, workload, alcohol consumption, and migraine severity (and possibly other factors if I think of them). My goal would be to be able to generate a graph and be able to see, "Oh, my migraine level on these days was a 6 and lookee there, I only got 4 hours sleep the night before," or "Ah, I had 2 glasses of wine that night" or whatever.

I've looked into some migraine tracking apps, but I'm not sure they're customizable enough. And I thought about setting this all up in Google Calendar, but that doesn't seem robust enough in terms of graphability.

I'd like to have a solution that I could use on the go — either with my iPhone or iPad — but if that's not possible, I could always enter data at night into my computer.

Does anyone have a standalone program or app they could recommend that could do this? Or, alternately, does anyone have a personal system set up with excel or whatever that they could describe?
posted by Uncle Glendinning to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I have used a few Android (free/lite) apps but none weer as useful as an excel sheet (on Google docs) It had following rows

Time Headache Began
Time Headache Ended
Any Warning Signs (e.g. Aura)
Location of Pain
Type of Pain (Throbbing/Piercing/Pressing etc)
Intensity of Pain, 1=least, 10=Worst
Other Symptoms, Nausea/Vomiting etc.
Medication(dose) / Other treatment
Effect of Treatment
How Headache affected daily routine
Hours of Sleep before headache
What I ate before headache?
Activities before headache appeared
Important stressful events occurred today
Other medications taken today
Other comments

Hope you find a trigger ( I did not, after tracking it for 4 years)

Good Luck
posted by zaxour at 11:32 AM on August 11, 2012

Yeah, I did the same thing for similar reasons and I just used a google docs spreadsheet.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:33 AM on August 11, 2012

Look into your flowing data. Basically you set up what factors you want to track, tweet at it using formalized language, and it figures out the rest.

There are, of course, lots of tracker apps out there, but YFD is interesting because you set all the parameters.
posted by adamrice at 11:42 AM on August 11, 2012

I also just use a spreadsheet.

You might also want to add "weather" as a field.
posted by elizardbits at 12:09 PM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I do this on a spreadsheet and I would love to find a more elegant solution. A friend suggested that I look at adapting a weather-tracking application, but I haven't had a chance to look into that.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:21 PM on August 11, 2012

ANOTHER thing you might want to track, under a seekrit code if you find it ~embarrassing, is constipation.
posted by elizardbits at 1:02 PM on August 11, 2012

I currently use iHeadache. it's not great. it doesn't track all the stuff you want. i tried google calendar for a while too, but the ultimate best thing i ever used was a spreadsheet. but it was too much effort so i stopped using it. whee.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:35 PM on August 11, 2012

I use My Headache Log app. It has pre made and customizable lists for triggers (i added quite a few foods to this) medications, pain location, pain scale, etc. I use the notes field to add additional information. Plus it has various charts and graphs.
posted by KogeLiz at 3:22 PM on August 11, 2012

Your profile doesn't say where you live, but barometric pressure might be a consideration. For instance, people that live near the Gulf often experience migraines from the pressure from hurricanes.
posted by 6:1 at 3:49 PM on August 11, 2012

I use a free website called You create an account, choose the list of triggers you want to be prompted on, and it will send you an email once every 24 hours (you choose the time) asking you to click through and enter the day's data. It will prompt you first if you had a headache. If you did, you can log whether it was a severe one or not, and whether any medication you took worked, and add notes. Then you rate your exposure to triggers (they have a list of common ones, and you can add a bunch of your own that you might want to track). I found it a few years ago via googling pretty much this question, but in any event my migraine doctor likes it because you can print out a calendar marking your headaches to bring with you to appointments.
posted by lyra4 at 4:32 PM on August 11, 2012

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