Sunshine, long days and patios...it's definitely looking like the beginning of the vacation season. Long weekends at the lake and road trips are summer staples for many families. Unfortunately, not everyone will be taking time off for such enjoyable reasons.
June is Headache and Migraine Awareness Month, sponsored by migraine organizations across North America and the UK.
Migraines, for anyone who has been fortunate enough not to experience them, are a neurological disorder that affect 1 in 8 people and can quickly become debilitating.
They are a severe throbbing headache normally accompanied by sensitivity to light, sound, and smells, as well as nausea and vomiting. They are often triggered by dehydration, stress and lack of sleep, though many sufferers also have food and weather triggers.
Managing migraines at work
Migraines can occur a few times a year or be a daily struggle. While many people can live a normal life between attacks, not everyone is so fortunate, with many sufferers unable to work or participate in social activities because of the chronic pain.
While friends and family are often aware of the condition, there is still a lot of stigma around migraines, therefore many people choose not to disclose it to their employers and coworkers until it is absolutely necessary. For people who only suffer from migraines a few times a year, sick days and maybe the occasional vacation day may cover the time off they need. Chronic migraine sufferers, however, may require some special accommodations in order to minimize the risk of attacks in the workplace.
A few reasonable requests that may be made to help remove migraine triggers from the workplace are:
- Equipping computers with anti-glare screens.
- If working by a window, curtains so workers can control the lighting conditions at their desk.
- An ergonomically designed work space to help avoid muscle tension in the neck and shoulders.
- A work space close to the water fountain or cooler so the worker can easily stay hydrated, especially at the onset of a migraine.
- A dark and quiet room where they can go if they get hit with a migraine during work hours.
- Flexible hours and/or the ability to work from home when the worker feels able to do so.
Learn from your migraines
Each migraine is unique, not only from person to person, but from migraine to migraine. Triggers, symptoms, and auras can all vary, and it is important to be aware of all of them in order to effectively treat and prevent headaches and migraines.
While employers have the responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate their workers' health and safety, it is the job of the employee to monitor their own condition.
Whether you download an app or prefer tried and true pen and paper, a headache/migraine diary of your attacks and potential triggers will help you determine how to best avoid attacks in the future.
- Write down the date and duration of your headache, as well as any triggers that may have been a factor, whether it is a change in the weather of something you ate.
- Once you start to notice some common trends in triggers you can control, start eliminating them one at a time from your diet or environment and see which make a difference.
- Talk to your doctor about your suspicions or discoveries and ask them what kind of treatment they recommend to keep your migraines at bay. You may not be able to control weather triggers, but you may be able to prevent or subdue the attack.
Join the fight
Enter #ShadesForMigraines! While we had many hashtags and campaigns to choose from this month, the summer sun encouraged us to choose something fun and engaging. #ShadesforMigraines is a social media based awareness campaign that encourages everyone to acknowledge headaches and migraines by spending an entire day in sunglasses. This particular campaign peaks on June 21st, so we will be double hashtagging this month with #MHAM.
So on June 21st, remember to pull out your #ShadesForMigraines and show your support for your friends, family and colleagues battling headaches and migraines. And don't forget to follow our Twitter feed every Monday during Migraine and Headache Awareness month to learn more.