September 21, 2014
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Pain Management

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Headache tracker

A Headache Tracker is an important tool in the management of headaches: it is a way of "measuring" your headaches, just as someone with high blood pressure would measure and record their blood pressure readings.

"Measuring" your headaches will require you to record a number of details pertaining to each of your headaches. The Headache Tracker is made up of two components: 1) the monthly headache calendar; 2) the headache detail chart.

On the monthly headache calendar you record the date and time of day of each headache, if medication is used, as well as the onset of a menstrual cycle.

On the headache details chart, in addition to the above, you record the duration of your headache, details of the medication used, the response to treatment and, if recognized, the trigger factor(s) for the attacks.

Print out the monthly headache calendar and the headache details chart to record your entries.

HOW TO USE THE CALENDAR AND CHART

Using your monthly headache calendar

Using your monthly headache calendar, record the following information whenever you experience a headache:

  1. Date/Time of day: Find the corresponding day of the month and checkmark whether your headache occurred in the morning, afternoon, evening, or at sleeptime (for nocturnal attacks).
  2. Medication taken: Checkmark if you used medication to treat your headache.
  3. Menstrual period: For women, space is provided where you can record the onset of your menstrual period on the calendar to see if there is a relationship between headaches (e.g. migraines) and your menstrual cycle. The time around the menstrual period may result in greater incidence of headache (e.g. migraines).

Once you've recorded your headache history on the monthly headache calendar, use the headache details chart to record more detailed information about each headache your experience.

Using your headache details chart

  1. Date/Time of day/Time: Transfer the date, time of day, and time of your headache in the appropriate spaces in the chart.
  2. Severity: Record a score or grade indicating severity using the following scale:
  3. Headache severity scale

    • 1 = mild headache
      During a mild headache your ability to work and be around people is not affected by the headache. The headache is usually not throbbing and other symptoms of nausea and sensitivity to light and sound may not be present.
    • 2 = moderate headache
      During a moderate migraine the headache and other migraine symptoms are severe enough to impair your ability to function. Talking with other people, reading and working can be done but not as well as normal. You may or may not appear uncomfortable to those around you, because people can often "hide" this level of discomfort.
    • 3 = severe headache
      A severe migraine results in a period of incapacitation. Your headache may be of such intensity as to prevent you from concentrating on anything else. You may have such severe sensitivity to light and sound that you need to be in a dark and quiet place. Nausea and vomiting may cause an inability to function in any capacity. And you may find that going to bed for several hours, or days, is the only way to cope.

  4. Duration: Record the duration of your headache
  5. Medication taken: All medication for headache, together with any medication you've taken for other conditions, should be listed with their doses.
  6. Effect: There is a separate space for how well your headache treatment worked on the day you used it. The "scale of effectiveness" (see below) will help you measure the level of relief you felt two hours after taking your medication
  7. Scale of effectiveness

    • 0 = none
      Your headache and other symptoms did not improve.
    • 1 = slight relief
      The medication taken resulted in a minimal reduction in discomfort but not enough to improve your ability to function.
    • 2 = moderate relief
      The treatment resulted in an improvement in function but headache or other symptoms were still present.
    • 3 = complete relief
      Your headache and other symptoms are completely gone and your ability to function returned to normal.

  8. Trigger factors: If you think you know what triggered your headache, you can record the trigger factor(s) in the space provided. Trigger factors can change. Your sensitivity to various trigger factors may change during your life. Trigger factors include things like alcohol, weather, stress and strong lights.

Print the calendar and use it to record the date and severity of each headache. As well you should record each day that you take medication for your headache. Record the onset of your menstrual period if applicable. Use the headache details chart to record additional information such as the duration, medication used, response to treatment and, if recognized, the trigger factor(s) for the attack.

Print out the monthly headache calendar and the headache detail chart to record your entries.


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