When you start experiencing mystery symptoms, you might first seek out the quickest way to relieve the pain and not worry too much about its cause.
However, if the pain becomes more frequent and chronic, you may begin to worry that something major is going on. For this reason, you’ll probably schedule an appointment with your doctor to find out exactly what is triggering your symptoms. But, before you visit, you should consider noting your symptoms, so you can share them with your doctor to help them make a more accurate diagnosis.
The practice of tracking your pain will be very helpful for your doctor and will also assist them in determining the actual condition you may have among a sea of conditions—inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases, gastrointestinal problems, and others.
Keeping a close eye on your symptoms and tracking them carefully not only helps doctors to better understand what’s happening inside your body, but it can also help improve your overall communication with your medical team, so they don’t automatically write you off as “seeking attention” or “just suffering from depression”.
When tracking your symptoms, keep these points in mind:
Where is the pain?
Where is the pain primarily located? In your stomach, your head, your joints? Or is it all over? Does it stay in one spot or move around?
How would you describe the pain?
Throbbing, tearing, ripping, aching? What words would you use to describe the pain? Giving your doctor this information can give them more insight into what you may be suffering from.
What other sensations do you feel with the pain?
In addition to the pain, do you feel nauseous, weak, dizzy, out of breath, confused? Having this information will further help your doctors to make an accurate diagnosis.
Does your pain get worse or better at different times of day?
Is your pain more intense in the morning, but you find it gets better as the day progresses, or is it the opposite? Do flares occur each day or only on certain days or following certain activities?
How intense is your pain on a scale of 1 to 10? 1 being very bearable, 10 being completely unbearable?
It’s also important to note the intensity level of your pain, so your doctor can have a better idea of what might be happening.
Furthermore, your physician may ask you whether your pain affects your daily activities and well-being, and to what extent. More likely, your pain’s severity will not be the same from one day to another.
The practice of noting your pain symptoms will help you in various ways. You will be able to pinpoint which things worsen your pain, which make it better, and also keep track of your diet and how certain foods affect your pain levels.
Each of the following parameters will help your doctor make a better diagnosis and choose the most appropriate treatment:
Some chronic pain types will get better when you are active—others, though, may get worse with movement. Therefore, you should note what type of physical activity affects your pain levels.
There is no single conclusion on how and why the weather affects chronic pain, but some find an obvious pattern between the two. In some cases, for instance, a high barometric pressure (good weather) in the environment may alleviate pain, whereas extreme and unpleasant weather conditions may make chronic pain worse. This is why you should note down the weather conditions at the time you experienced your symptoms.
This is another very important factor many of us tend to skip when noting down our symptoms. What we eat can have an enormous effect on our pain levels. For example, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, food dyes, and gluten all have the potential to cause chronic inflammation in our bodies.
However, your chronic pain may also be caused by unknown food allergies that you’ll need to have tested.
Take note of what you eat and drink and see if there is any pattern to the amount of pain you feel when you consume them. For example, does your pain worsen when you eat potatoes or bread? Does it seem to get better after you drink a cup of green tea?
Apps That Help You Track Your Mystery Symptoms
Originally created by University of Michigan researchers with the aim to encourage people to participate in chronic pain studies, this app allows you to pinpoint your pain in a 3D body simulation. It can also track your medication side effects, pain triggers, and treatment information.
In addition to keeping track of your symptoms, treatment information, mental mood, and sleep patterns, this app allows you through its ‘community’ module to check how other patients with a condition similar to yours control their pain. This app also comes with a range of helpful articles and videos from medical resources, so you can find out more about your condition and how to manage it.
Chronic Pain Tracker App
The Chronic Pain Tracker App offers an impressive 19 different tracking features such as location of pain, frequency, duration, level of physical activity, sleep cycles, and more. This app gives you the option to analyze all of these variables and generate helpful graphs and charts to share with your doctor.
As you can see, keeping a close eye on your mystery symptoms, as well as your activity level, diet, and how the weather affects you, will help you be better equipped with the critical information your doctors need to give you a proper diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan.