A simple way to think about your headaches, using the Canadian Headache Society Guidelines, which stratifies medication choices based on headache severity.


The traffic light system is based on the associated disability of the migraine attack:

Green: “I can still go” headache

Yellow: “I have to slow down” headache

Red: “I have to stop” headache

You can work with your doctor to choose what the appropriate first‐line medication choice is for your migraines based on the severity of the attack, i.e. what colour on the “traffic light of headache” you’re experiencing.


Using the traffic lights, you can also color‐code your headache calendar. This allows you and your doctor to get a sense of how treatments are working at a quick glance, with a goal of seeing fewer red/yellow days and more green, or even blank (white) headache‐free days, on your calendar.


Alternatively, you can use the 0-1-2-3 technique instead of colours where 0 is a headache free day, 1 is mild (I can function), 2 is moderate (I am slowed) and 3 is severe (I cannot function).

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
2 3 1 2 3
3 2 2
1 3
2 1 1


Download our headache diaries.


Marissa Lagman-Bartolome A, Lay C. The Traffic Light of Headache: Simplifying Acute Migraine Management for Physicians and Patients Using the Canadian Headache Society Guidelines.

Headache.2018 Oct 27. doi: 10.1111/head.13428.