6 Tips for Handling Migraines at Work

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Although more people in the U.S. suffer from migraine than from asthma and diabetes combined, migraine remains one of the most underdiagnosed, misunderstood, and undertreated of diseases. A recent poll found that 61 percent of migraine-sufferers took over-the-counter medications or nothing at all for migraines. Here are some tips for handling your migraine in the workplace.

Understand migraines are a disease, not just a bad headache

Don’t minimize your migraine to “just a headache.” Migraine is a real medical condition like diabetes or asthma. It is a disease with a range of symptoms that are as debilitating as the pain itself.

Be your best advocate

Talk to a doctor about your migraines and how best to manage them. There are many effective new treatments for migraines, the newest of which are called triptans. They stop the migrainous process in the brain and quickly relieve the pain and other symptoms, like light sensitivity.

Make changes in your workplace

Make changes that reduce your susceptibility to migraine triggers. Ask co-workers to go easy on perfume and cologne, don’t consume too much caffeine, drink lots of water, don’t skip meals and use an anti-glare screen on your computer so your eyes don’t have to strain.

Be on the alert for early signs of a migraine

Get to know your migraine patterns so you spot early signs of a migraine attack. Some people experience irritability, mild pain or nausea prior to a migraine. Take your medication early whenever possible. Sixty percent of migraineurs have early symptoms and can learn to recognize them.

Educate your boss and co-workers about migraines

Creating understanding and awareness of migraines and their impact can cultivate support from the people you work with.

Recognize when your migraine condition is not under control

If migraines increasingly make you absent from work, force you to go home early, or impair your ability to do your job in any way, then they are probably not under control. Tell your doctor if your migraines are impacting you in your work. Together you can work on a treatment plan.