And what can be even more frustrating is how hard it is to get relief from your headaches. You might visit the doctor half a dozen times before you finally get some kind of treatment, and then it’s not always helpful. But a headache journal can help you in many ways, including identifying whether your headache is related to TMJ so it can be properly treated.
Benefits of a Headache Journal
A headache journal offers many benefits for you. It can:
- Help diagnose headache causes
- Document which treatments work
- Help you organize questions and answers for healthcare providers
- Help you avoid headache triggers
- Provide emotional release
- Potentially provide physical relief
A headache journal allows you to figure out connections between your headache and other things in your life. This can help your doctor track down what is causing your headache. And it will help your doctor fine-tune treatment. Having a good record of how well your treatments are working can be very helpful. Your doctor is more likely to believe that a treatment isn’t working when you’ve got it down in the journal.
The journal also makes sure that you don’t forget key questions you wanted to ask or key answers that your doctor asked you to keep track of. And once you’ve identified what triggers your headaches, you can avoid them more easily.
But the journal itself can also help improve your life with headaches. Writing in the journal can allow you to say things that you want to say but don’t feel you can say to other people, who may not understand or may be offended by them. This emotional release can be very important and allows you to avoid feeling all bottled up. And sometimes this writing in your journal can even provide physical relief from your headache symptoms.
An Effective Headache Journal
If you are starting your headache journal, here are some things to include to make it helpful:
- When (both day and time) your headache occurs
- How long headaches last
- The intensity and severity of the pain
- The quality of the pain (ex. dull, throbbing, stabbing, growing or receding)
- What you were doing before the headache started
- What you ate or drank before the headache started
- Other symptoms that preceded or followed headache, such as:
- Pain in other places
- Sensitivity to light or smells
- Treatments you’ve tried for your headaches, including:
- When you started treatment
- Impact on your headache
- Prescription medication
- Herbal treatments
- Home remedies (ex. damp, cool cloth or heating pad)
- Impact of the headache on your life, including:
- Work days missed
- Reduced productivity
- Family events missed
- Emotions caused by headaches
With all this information, you and your doctor should be able to track down the cause of your headaches and maybe find a good treatment. Note: if you experience many TMJ symptoms in addition to your headaches, you might get good results with TMJ treatment.