Migraine in the workplace is a debilitating neurological condition affecting millions of people in the U.S. and around the world. Unlike severe headaches, chronic migraines can’t be cured by simply taking pills. In extreme cases, this condition can even affect the sufferer’s quality of life.
If you’ve been diagnosed to have migraines, it’s not the end of your career. However, if your condition is frequent and severe, you may want to check out if you qualify for disability benefits. Managing migraine in the workplace could be challenging, but it’s not impossible.
Here are six things you need to know about managing migraine in the workplace:
1. Communicate With Your Boss And Coworkers
Many people keep their condition a secret due to misconceptions, including fear of discrimination. But if you have chronic health conditions, such as migraines, you shouldn’t be afraid to share your problem with your boss or your company’s HR. Remember that open communication is one of the keys to a healthy workplace environment.
Since some chronic migraine sufferers need to be absent from work for days, it helps if the employer or coworkers know your situation to help them understand the reason behind your absences.
2. Know Your Trigger
If you’ve been suffering from migraine in the workplace for a long time, you’ll discover the things that trigger your condition. But if you haven’t yet realized what your possible migraine triggers are, maybe you can have a handy journal with you all the time and list the things that you ate or things that made you uncomfortable. Soon, you can pinpoint the things that spark your symptoms even in uncontrolled environments like your workplace, school, or even other public spaces.
Alcohol, lack of sleep, hormonal changes, the weather, certain food and additives, medications, and even intense physical activities are just some of the things that could cause an attack. The migraine in the workplace can be caused by the following:
- Bright fluorescent lights
- Strong odors
- Too much caffeine
3. Be Mindful Of Early Warning Signs
Often, a prodromal phase or a warning stage will alert you for a possible attack of migraine in the workplace. Just think of it like the smoke that signifies an impending house fire, so you must call the fire department and look for the source of the smoke to prevent your home from turning to ashes.
Be mindful of your warning signs so you can take measures to preempt a full-blown attack. Here are the usual symptoms to look out for:
- Stiff neck
- Sensitivity to lights
- Difficulty concentrating
- Excessive yawning or Fatigue
- Food cravings
4. Come To Work Prepared
A migraine attack is so much more than a splitting headache. Individuals who experience chronic attacks will tell you that they’re willing to do anything to help prevent an attack. So, if you have a migraine in the workplace and don’t want to feel its debilitating symptoms, you should always be prepared, especially when you’re bound to work and don’t have control of the environment. Here are the things you could do if you feel an imminent attack:
- Take your medication
- Rehydrate with water or beverages infused with electrolytes
- Turn off lights or wear sunglasses
- Take a nap if you need to
- Close your door and wear earplugs if your office is noisy
- Use an ice pack or even a hot compress to help manage pain in your head and neck
- Drink coffee or caffeinated drinks if that helps you, but caffeine may no longer work if you’re an excessive coffee drinker.
5. Work With Your HR For Accommodations
As mentioned earlier, it pays to tell your boss and your HR that you have chronic migraines. Treat your boss and the human resources department as your ally. Helping you prevent any migraine in the workplace will benefit both you and your company. Some of the accommodations that you may request include the following:
- Finding a quiet and not-too-bright area in the office to work in
- Allowing you to wear sunglasses or earplugs while working
- Allowing you to bring a bottle of cold water to your workstation so you can stay hydrated
6. Be Mindful Of Your Rights
As mentioned above, chronic migraine sufferers may qualify for disability depending on their situation. If your condition is already affecting your work, you might want to apply for disability coverage. Also, if you feel that the company you work for is treating you with discrimination because of your condition, you may want to seek the help of an attorney to guide you about your rights and what steps you may need to take.
It’s worth emphasizing that it would be easier for you to ask for accommodations if you fully disclose your migraine problem with your employer.
Migraine shouldn’t prevent you from succeeding in your career. You can still work effectively and professionally even if you experience a chronic migraine in the workplace. Be proactive and communicate with your boss and coworkers, so they understand your condition. Lastly, consult with a lawyer to know if you qualify for disability claims.