BY LISA SMITH
If you’re one of the 40 million Americans struggling with migraine disease those of us who have been at this fight a long time can help you navigate the journey to getting better care. Today I give you the tip I give everyone: Get a MIGRAINE TRACKER for your smartphone.
In the old days, doctors advised us to keep migraine diaries. That meant lugging around a notebook, writing down symptoms and duration and circumstances of our attacks, and compiling the records into something our doctors could use.
Yeah, right. We’re lucky if we can spell our own names correctly during an attack. Do all that??
Then, one glorious day, smart people invented smartphones. Other smart people invented apps for smartphones to help us do all kinds of cool things…including a way to track migraines with a few clicks on your phone. Migraine tracker apps do amazing things that improve the odds of you getting the best care. The American Migraine Foundation and Dr. Cynthia Armand agree that keeping a headache diary is a must.
A migraine tracker makes record keeping simple
You simply click on the app and hit a few buttons. A good app guides you through all the relevant questions to capture as much information about your attack as possible, like when it started, what you did, what medications you took, how they worked, how long the attack lasted, what the symptoms were, and more. That information is medical gold down the road, and it’s so easy that you can do it while Godzilla is playing rugby with your head.
Migraine tracker captures info you didn’t know you needed
You might not know what information matters, but a good app does. It guides you through questions you might not think of. Good information about the details of your migraine attacks are like clues in a TV cop show. The little thing nobody thinks is important might be a big piece of the puzzle. The migraine app is like your crime scene investigator, collecting evidence you don’t know what to do with yet.
Doctors LOVE data—and so do insurers
My favorite benefit of using a migraine tracker app is the credibility it gives me as a patient. If I use it regularly, I can use the app to generate a report about the number, severity, and patterns of my attacks since my last visit. That detailed data will be your best friend:
- Convince a reluctant doctor that yes, you DO have migraine disease. The right diagnosis is the first step to better treatment.
- Help eager-but-non-specialist doctors see the patterns in your disease more clearly and guide them towards better treatment options for you.
- It helps the doctors pinpoint what’s going on in your head and apply their expertise with more precision.
- Are your attacks increasing in number or severity? Are they changing in response to treatments. If a treatment is working slowly, it might not feel like an improvement, but the records will help you and your doctor figure out whether to stay with it or change.
- Here’s the big one: If your doctor thinks you need a more aggressive (a.k.a. more expensive) treatment, the detailed data from your app helps your doctor make the strongest “medical necessity” case to your insurer.
Go find a new best friend. Google “migraine tracker apps” and check out the reviews to find the best tracker for you. Then load that puppy onto your smartphone, and let your migraine disease know its days are numbered.
Lisa is a longtime migraine patient and dedicated advocate for her fellow migraineurs and other patients. After a career in New England radio, she spent several years as a writer and video producer for governmental and non-profit organizations. A graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, Lisa lives in the Boston area and collects as many adventures as she can, such as interviewing Grammy-award-winning musicians, engaging with wild snow monkeys in Japan, and developing her cosplay skills. Twitter: @smithbrainz