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Help Manage Migraine at Work

How many of your employees miss time at work because of migraine?

It may be more than you realize. About 113 million work days are missed every year because of migraine, research has found. Someone in the United States goes to the emergency room for a migraine or headache as often as every 10 seconds.

Migraines have been in the news lately because of a new drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration that is designed to help prevent migraine.  Many existing medications are only prescribed to treat the symptoms, such as nausea, dizzi­ness, and a sensitivity to sound, light, and smell.

Those symptoms can make it extremely difficult for a person to maintain his or her daily routine, much less a productive work day. More than 90 percent of people with migraine are unable to work or function normally when one strikes, the Migraine Research Founda­tion reports.

When we talk about well-being, we like to think of it as putting people first. Here are six tips to help your employees deal with migraine attacks while on the job and manage relationships with their coworkers.

1. Set reminders to step away from the computer.

Getting up, taking a brief walk and grabbing a drink at the water cooler are healthy habits for everyone. Making an effort to reduce stress is especially important to help prevent migraine. Some people may consider using a meditation app or breathing exercise.

2. Educate all employees about migraine.

Explain that migraine is more than just a bad headache. People who are prone to migraine are not trying to dodge their responsibilities. You could identify some sympathetic staff members who can help their coworkers with migraine.

3. Substitute incandescent or LED bulbs for fluorescent lights.

Research shows these types are less likely to contribute to a migraine.

4. Ask employees not to wear perfume or cologne in the office.

Not everyone may comply, however. People who suffer migraine may have to avoid small office spaces and the elevator at peak times.

5. Get the boss on board.

Managers, supervisors and human resources contacts who understand the situation can help with some of the tactics listed above.

6. Keep migraine medication at work.

Encourage employees to take theirs as soon as they feel an attack coming on, to give them the best chance of reducing the intensity of their symptoms.

Learn more about these tips and test your migraine knowledge with WebMD magazine’s special issue, Focus on Migraine.

To help educate your employees, download this poster: What you need to know about managing migraine.

Migraine attacks are not just a problem at work. They affect life at home, strain personal relationships and disrupt normal routines. Research has found that many people with chronic migraine feel sad, guilty, and frustrated by their condition.

Seventy percent of people with migraine say that it causes problems in their relationships. Many don’t talk about the pain or other symptoms they feel because they’re afraid of being judged or that others won’t believe them.

Do you suffer from migraine? Answer a few questions and get tips and treatment options recommended specifically for you. Take the assessment at WebMD.

It all adds up to a misunderstanding about migraine. Some people think of it as just a headache. When the symptoms are not obvious, sometimes even family members may not realize what’s really going on. A 2013 study found that chronic migraine cause the same amount of social stigma as epilepsy.

For a closer look at how a person with recurring migraine is forced to alter her life, WebMD profiled Jenifer, a busy mom and school administrator. “It’s almost like the migraine becomes a child of its own that I have to take care of,” she said.  Watch “In Their Own Words: Moving Beyond Migraine.”

If you or someone you know suffers from migraine, WebMD has plenty of helpful articles and tips, including “Dos and Don’ts With Migraines,” “How A Specialist Can Help,” “When Migraines Interrupt Your Life” and “Is Your Food to Blame?” You can access them here.

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