Managing Migraines at Work

Oct 24, 2022

Most people think a migraine is just a longer lasting or more severe headache, but it just isn’t that simple. Migraines are a headache category of their own, which vary in intensity and are typically accompanied by more compounding symptoms like nausea, sensitivity to sound and light, throbbing in a certain region of the head, difficulty focusing and even GI disruptions like constipation.

Some people have acute migraine symptoms and others have more severe, life-altering ones. Migraines can last 4 - 72 hours if left untreated, with varying frequency and intensity person-to-person. Though migraines do tend to last longer than your typical Tylenol-treated headache, the cause is mostly unknown. So for migraine sufferers, knowing what to look for, identifying triggers and having a plan that actually works can be vital to overcoming the symptoms and returning back to norm, especially at work. 

What to look for?

As previously named, migraines can vary in frequency, intensity, and longevity, so you want to be armed with the knowledge of what to look for. There are several types of migraines:

Migraine with Aura: This complicated migraine causes auras or vision impairment like seeing black dots or blurred visuals in one or both eyes. Typically, after an Aura Migraine, sensitivity to sound and light in addition to a throbbing migraine will ensue.

Migraine without Aura: Just as the name would suggest, this migraine is one without the warning sign of the Aura or visual impairment, but atypical of the remaining symptoms- sound and noise sensitivity, accompanied by a pulsating or throbbing head pain.

Retinal Migraine: Common in women of childbearing age, the difference between these migraines and others is the loss of vision in one side. The loss of vision can last a brief as a minute or as long as months. 

Hemiplegic Migraine: Symptoms for these migraines have often been likened to that of a stroke. Numbness, loss of sensation on one side, Auras and/or  pins and needles feeling. Just like with other migraines, ones of this variety do not always include the throbbing pain of a severe headache.

Chronic Migraine: Migraines last for extended periods of time like two weeks or more usually indicate a chronic migraine. These may be equated to the same symptoms of a sinus or tension headache. 

Migraines and headaches are of the same family so to speak, so it is important to remain equally informed of types of headaches that can cause similar longterm and painful effects like Cervogenic, Cluster, and Ice pick headaches to name a few. LEARN MORE

Identifying the trigger(s)

When it comes to migraines, knowing your triggers can be extremely useful in developing an appropriate treatment or management plan. Increased stress, exercise, muscle tension, hormone change, dietary changes, insufficient sleep, allergies, environmental changes, strong smells, loud sounds and smoke are some common migraine triggers. Because the cause of migraines remains unidentified, noticing patterns of triggers can be vital to successfully managing your migraines at work. 

Keeping a Migraine Journal when your migraines occur can help you pin point even the most unsuspecting of triggers. For example: 

You may crane your neck while sitting in front of your computer. Your neck position can cause muscle tension in your sub occipitals, or base of your neck and into your shoulders. Combined with insufficient sleep this non-ergonomic position may be a common contributor to the migraines you experience. 

Just like other hard to diagnose and prevent health conditions, keeping a log of the patterns and triggers that you notice can help you avoid unwanted and unsuccessful treatments.

Managing migraines at work

If you notice an uptake in frequency or symptoms are severe in your migraines, it is time to see your doctor. Working with the right professional to proactively prevent and manage your migraines through prescription therapy and behavioral changes can make all the difference. However, if you are experiencing a migraine while at work, here are some useful tips to calm your migraine symptoms in addition to your medically prescribed plans: 

Have an ergonomic desk setup. Just like in the above example, muscle tension of the neck and shoulders is a common trigger for migraines.  Maintaining an ergonomic desk setup whether you sit or stand can be a game changer in keeping your migraines at bay. 

Give your eyes and body a break. The backlight of your computer screen can contribute to the known neurological effects that relate to migraines. Step away from the computer, and if you can take a minute to lay down and close your eyes. The extra rest will take the pressure off your neck and shoulders too. 

Stretch and strengthen. Tension and weakness often go hand in hand. Ensuring that you have a routine to eliminate common aches and pains that trigger your migraines will help prevent that they show up in the first place. LEARN MORE

Hydration and electrolyte balance. Dehydration can cause cognitive and physical dysfunction, in addition to your migraine symptoms. Be sure that in hydration you also focus on keeping an electrolyte balance. 

Get some rest. Do you wake up feeling tired? That can be one of the first signs of insufficient sleep. Getting enough ZZZs can help regulate hormones and help your body avoid the Sympathetic response of fight or flight under stress. 

Everyone is unique, and thus treatment and prevention of migraines can vary. Remember, migraines should be taken as a serious health concern and those suffering from migraines should seek medical attention right away to determine the most appropriate course of treatment.

Need help understanding your health? We at Wellview are here to support you. Click HERE to learn more about the services available to you.

– Casey Edmonds, MPH, CILC, CHWC, CMS, CPT

Editor-in-Chief, Health Advisor, Personal Trainer| Email Casey

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