Dealing With a Migraine at Work
A migraine episode is tough to deal with anytime you will experience it, but can be even harder if you experience a migraine at work. The headache will change your mood, will affect your ability to focus and complete a task, and you may even need to take off the rest of the day to deal with it. What can you do prevent and manage migraines at work?
- Try to prevent it. Keep a journal, try to identify the triggers and avoid them. Pay attention not only to food or environmental triggers or hormonal changes, but also at the stress levels. The more you are aware of the triggers, the easier will be to take action and avoid them.
- Always be prepared, and have the meds with you. The medications you can have at work are the ones that don’t cause sedation- for example anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen and specific drugs prescribed for migraines. Go to a quite room (preferably dark, even better if you can lie down) and wait until the drugs start to work.
- Besides avoiding the foods that may cause you a headache, pay attention to when and how you eat. Don’t stay hungry, as hunger can trigger an episode of migraine. Even if you have a lot of work to do, make time to get a snack and lunch at regular times. Avoid too many coffees, or lots of salt in the food, and drink water throughout the day (dehydration is a common cause of headaches).
- Some migraine triggers are related to your work environment, so avoid them. Florescent lights, loud noises or strong smells are also found in some job places. Ask your manager to help you stay away from them- maybe you will need to move in another cubicle, get an anti-glare screen to dim the light generated by your computer. Occupational therapist can help you set up the desk, computer and other working tools to avoid unhealthy postures which can lead to neck and back pains. If you have to sit long hours, try to stand up and go for a quick walk 10-15 minutes every couple of hours.
- A good way to avoid stress is to prioritize your activities, and don’t multi-task. Make a plan at the beginning of the day, and try to stick with it. Try to have a couple of days each week off work (i.e. don’t work Saturdays and Sundays if you have a regular job) , and take your vacations when they are due.
- Should you tell to your employer about your migraines? Maybe you should. Otherwise your employer may better understand you if you need some time off, or if you have some days when you aren’t so productive. You can bring a doctor’s note when you have the meeting with him, but try to keep the conversation short and without too many details. See if you company has Employee Assistance Program – a department that deals with special accommodations that you may need to perform your job.
- You should also be aware of your rights. Migraine is listed as disability under the US Disability Act, and therefore an employer can’t discriminate against you because you have this disability. You can learn more about this by checking the Job Accommodation Network