Smartphone keep track of headaches

iPhone apps allow migraine sufferers to keep a detailed diary of their symptoms and use of medication so they can have more effective conversations with their doctors.

With the new "Migraine Notebook" app from GlaxoSmithKline, patients can keep track of their day-to-day level of pain, the triggers that precede a migraine and when and at what dose they take their medicines.

iManage Migraine from Merck & Co., and iHeadache from BetterQOL.com, are other options for iPhone users. iHeadache has a Blackberry version. And there are similar programs for Android phones.

In a recent study of 1,218 migraine patients and 533 doctors, 91% of the physicians questioned said a migraine diary and medication tracker would help with discussion with their patients.

The statistics

70% of patients who took part in the poll agreed.

One third of doctors also said it was difficult to evaluate how well treatment was working when patients could not describe their most recent attacks, according to the study conducted by the National Headache Foundation and funded by GlaxoSmithKline.

One of the biggest issues in medicine is how patients communicate with their doctors, said Dr Merle Diamond of the National Headache Foundation.

Dr Diamond, who has a financial relationship with GlaxoSmithKline, said the company's app "gives us a window of communication which I think is really important in treating headaches. For example, it allows me to prepare questions about how they are using the medication," she added.

"Migraines have a major impact on the quality of life of patients that suffer from them," Dr Diamond said. "This allows us to become better self-advocates. We're going to need to be aggressive with our patients." (Reuters Health, May 2011)

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Migraine triggers

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