Headaches can hurt less: New headache diary from NPS medicinewise

New survey results from NPS released during National Pain Week 2012 suggest that headache pain could affect as many as 1 in 10 Australians every week. Yet many may have trouble pinpointing the possible triggers for their headaches. With this in mind, NPS has launched a new headache diary to help people with frequent headaches to understand and manage their headaches.

In a survey* of over 1200 respondents, 1 in 3 reported suffering from headaches at least once a month, of whom 1 in 10 experienced them once a week or more often.

For those who report having regular headaches (one or more a week) around 50% have seen a doctor, but only 1 in 3 have kept a record of their symptoms or other information about their headaches.

“Headaches can range from tension-type headaches through to debilitating migraines,” says NPS clinical adviser Dr Philippa Binns.

“Your doctor can best identify your headache type and how to treat you if they have a complete picture of your headache experience.

“This means they will ask questions about your headaches, when they occur, and what treatments work for you— and this is where a headache diary can help. If you are suffering from regular headaches, there may be certain environmental or lifestyle factors which are triggering their onset,” she says.

“For these people, keeping a headache diary can help identify these triggers and ultimately help them avoid them. Some people may worry that their headache has a serious underlying cause, but for the vast majority of headaches there isn’t a serious cause. X-rays or other imaging tests are very rarely required.”

A headache diary allows you to record important details about your headaches, such as symptoms, frequency and other factors which may be contributing to their onset. It also helps you and your doctor to assess how successful any treatments are.

“This can include things like avoiding triggers, reducing stress and using pain relief medicines appropriately,” says Dr Binns.

When it comes to treating headaches, over-the-counter pain medicines were the overwhelmingly popular choice with 81% of headache sufferers reporting using one for their last headache. Massage (11%) and ice packs (9%) were other treatment options reported.

You can find out more about headaches and download or order a copy of the new NPS Headache Diary at www.nps.org.au/conditions/headache

*This Newspoll study was conducted by telephone in July 2012 using a random national sample of 1,216 adults aged 18+.”


Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit, NPS MedicineWise enables better decisions about medicines and medical tests. We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.