Balancing Your Pain and Your Job: Migraine Treatment and Prevention in the Workplace

More than 38 million people in the United States currently struggle with migraines. Are you one of them?

If you’ve ever had a migraine, you know how painful and debilitating they can be — especially when they happen while you’re at work. How are you supposed to get anything done when you’re in pain, nauseated, and sensitive to light and sound? 

Luckily, at least, there are a few different migraine treatments you use to minimize your pain and improve your quality of life.

Read on to learn how you can prevent and treat migraines without letting your work performance suffer.

What Are Migraines?

Contrary to popular belief, a migraine is not just a “bad headache.” A migraine is a completely different beast.

Migraines do include severe headaches, yes. But, there are many other symptoms associated with migraines that separate them from other types of headaches.

Migraine Symptoms

Migraines typically occur in stages. There are four stages, and each stage comes with its own distinct symptoms.

Prodrome

This stage occurs one or two days before the migraine actually occurs. Symptoms of the prodrome stage include:

  • Mood swings
  • Constipation
  • Food cravings
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Frequent yawning

You may also experience increased thirst and increased urination.

Aura

Aura can occur before or during a migraine. Many people do not experience this stage.

Auras are often visual disturbances light flashing lights or wavy vision. Aurus can also be speech disturbances, weak muscles, vision loss, or a feeling as though someone is touching you. 

These symptoms can build up over several minutes and then last anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes.

Attack

This is the actual migraine. Symptoms include:

  • Pain on one or both sides of the head
  • Pain that pulses or throbs
  • Light, sound, smell, and/or touch sensitivity
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Blurred vision

These symptoms can last anywhere from four to 72 hours.

Post-Drome

This is the final phase. After a migraine, you may feel confused, dizzy, moody, or weak. You may also experience some residual light and sound sensitivity. 

The post-drome phase often lasts for about 24 hours.

What Causes Migraines?

There are a number of different issues and situations that can trigger migraines. Some common triggers include:

  • Hormonal changes before or during menstruation
  • Certain foods, especially foods that contain additives, a lot of sugar, or other types of sweeteners
  • Beverages like alcohol or highly caffeinated drinks
  • High levels of stress
  • Sensory stimuli like bright lights or strong smells from things like perfume or paint
  • Sleep changes (getting too much or not enough sleep)
  • Extreme physical exertion
  • Environmental changes (e.g., changes in the weather or barometric pressure)

Certain medications, including birth control pills and vasodilators, can also trigger migraines.

Migraine Risk Factors

Some people are also more prone to migraines than others. Women are more likely to experience migraines than men, especially when they’re in their reproductive years. Those who have a family history of migraines are also more likely to experience them.

Preventing Migraines

The first step you need to take to prevent migraines is to figure out what triggers them for you.

Pay attention to when you get migraines and write down information that might be pertinent. This includes the amount of sleep you got the night before, any foods or drinks you consume that you don’t normally consume, or higher than usual levels of stress.

Once you identify your triggers, do your best to stay away from them.

There are a few other steps you can take to prevent migraines at work, including the following:

  • Supplement with minerals like magnesium 
  • Stick to a consistent eating and sleeping schedule
  • Learn relaxation techniques like meditation to help manage stress effectively
  • Wear blue light blocking glasses if staring at the computer screen triggers migraines for you
  • Adjust your desk set up to make sure your posture or light exposure does not increase your risk of experiencing migraines
  • Work with a chiropractor to learn more about how your spinal alignment may be causing your pain or triggering migraines

Schedule downtime to make sure you’re resting and recharging. This can help you manage your stress and avoid situations that can be triggering.

Most Effective Migraine Treatments

You can do everything right to prevent migraines. In some cases, though, they simply can’t be avoided.

What should you do if a migraine arises while you’re at work? Consider trying one (or more) of these treatments:

Pain-Relieving Medications

Sometimes, pain-relieving medications like ibuprofen can help to take the edge off of a migraine. Keep some medicine on hand so you can reduce your pain.

CBD Oil

CBD oil contains cannabidiol, a plant compound found in the cannabis plant. It is a natural tool that can help to minimize pain and inflammation.

Step Away from the Computer

If possible, try to get away from your computer. Staring at a bright screen isn’t going to do you any favors when you’re dealing with a migraine.

Try to Relax

While you’re away from the computer, take steps to minimize stress and relax your muscles. Do a few stretches, walk around, or take some deep breaths with our eyes closed.

Leave Work if Possible

It might be embarrassing to talk to your boss about your pain. You might be afraid of seeming weak or like you’re just trying to get out of work early.

The truth, though, is that your boss probably doesn’t want you at work if you’re not feeling well.

You won’t be productive if you have a migraine. They’d most likely prefer that you just go home and rest and return when you’re able to get more done.

Try to talk to your boss about the fact that you get migraines before one actually arises. That way, it won’t seem as though you’ve just created this issue out of nowhere.

Stay Healthy and Happy at Work

There’s nothing worse than having a migraine come on while you’re at work. Once you figure out what triggers your migraines, you can take steps to prevent them.

Be sure to utilize these migraine treatments, too, in the event that a trigger shows up that you can’t avoid.

Do you want to learn about other steps you can take to stay healthy and happy in the workplace? If so, be sure to check out some of the other articles on our site.

This article on health issues young entrepreneurs should never ignore is a great starting point.

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