Migraine and Co.: Stiftung Warentest: Apps against headaches are so helpful

If you suffer from frequent headaches, it can help to keep a diary of the pain.

Migraine and Co.: Stiftung Warentest: Apps against headaches are so helpful

If you suffer from frequent headaches, it can help to keep a diary of the pain. What initially sounds like a punishment for those in pain can prove to be useful. If those affected know more precisely when and how the headaches occur and what the course of the disease is, doctors can make better diagnoses. In other words, it is easier to diagnose what type of headache you have. In order not to always have to carry a notebook with you, you can also keep a headache diary via the app. This also has the advantage that the apps evaluate additional data or provide background knowledge about headaches. Stiftung Warentest tested eight apps each in the iOS and Android versions.

The result: sobering. None of the eight applications made it past "Satisfactory". One criticism of the testers is that hardly any data on the medical history is requested - such as other illnesses, the work situation or medication. All information that can help with a diagnosis. If this information were stored in the app, those affected could take the data from the app with them to the doctor as a memory aid. Most apps were also not able to prove the benefits of the application through studies. Stiftung Warentest sees the concept of the "headache diary" as proven.

The apps all work according to the same pattern. First, they are fed data on headache attacks – triggers, duration, symptoms, medication taken. Once users have entered enough data, the apps evaluate the data. Some applications then offer tips for relaxation or pain relief.

The two apps "Headache Knowledge" and "M-Sense Migraine" performed best in the test and only just missed a "good". For "Headache Knowledge" a one-time investment of 35 euros is required. "M-Sense" is free of charge. The two winners convince, among other things, with extensive background information on headaches. Until April 2022, "M-Sense Migraine" was listed as a so-called digital health service. However, the app lost its status because it was unable to provide the necessary proof of effectiveness (read more about digital health applications here). "M-Sense Migraine" is limited to migraine patients. All other apps are designed for multiple headache types. The four best apps in the test warn users if they have already taken too many painkillers in a month. Over-medication can have negative consequences.

With a 4.1 on Android and a 4.2 on iOS, "Headache Diary" was the worst app in the test. Points of criticism: Passing on data to Facebook, no background knowledge and no warning of over-medication.

Stiftung Warentest recommends using such apps in consultation with your doctor. In this way, data analyzes can be meaningfully incorporated into therapy.

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