David Dodick, M.D., FAHS
Professor of Neurology, Mayo Clinic in Arizona; Chairman, American Migraine Foundation
Migraine in the workplace is an issue affecting millions of Americans each year. In fact, 157 million workdays in the United States are lost annually as a result.
Migraine can be managed in the workplace. Check out the tips below to learn how.
1. Talk to your supervisor
Discussing migraine with your supervisor is the first step to reasonable accommodations. For best results, schedule the meeting in advance and frame the discussion around how reducing workplace triggers will benefit your performance and productivity. If you need extra support, involve your physician or lean on migraine resources.
2. Address harsh lighting
Bright, fluorescent, and flickering lights can trigger or exacerbate migraine attacks. Soften the glare by replacing fluorescent lights or applying a filter to reduce their intensity. Additionally, the blue light emitted by computer screens may also contribute to migraine attacks — try adding a screen filter that helps block blue light.
3. Reduce scent and sound
Loud noises and strong scents like soap and perfume are two of the most common triggers for migraine. Ask employers to consider a no scent policy and to relocate you from a high-traffic area to somewhere more secluded, such as the end of a row of cubicles.
4. Request a recovery space
Being able to rest in a quiet and dark space can help the resolution of symptoms and recovery from an attack. It may also provide a discrete and private space to administer certain treatments. Speak with your employer about establishing a comfortable place you can go to help manage migraine attacks.
5. Educate your colleagues
Kindness goes a long way whether you’re dealing with bothersome triggers, missed work days, or coworkers adjusting to your accommodations. Talking with your colleagues about migraine and sharing educational material lets them know what you’re going through and how they can help make the workplace a more manageable place when living with migraine.
Simple accommodations could drastically benefit your work experience. As you begin conversations about migraine in your workplace, the American Migraine Foundation encourages you to seek out doctor-verified resources at americanmigrainefoundation.org to help educate your colleagues about this disabling disease.