Managing Migraines at Work
Jarrod Beachum, PA-C
The average worker spends 40 hours a week working, which is about 23% of the week. That 23% of our lives is important to providing for our families but can take quite a toll on us. Given the prevalence of migraine headaches in the population, it stands to reason that many headaches can be traced back to our jobs. Today I want to talk about some strategies for preventing migraines while at work.
The first step to preventing migraines is to create an environment that is tolerable to you. Migraines have many potential triggers, including odors, lights, sounds, foods. Reducing or eliminating these triggers is crucial.
Some common workplace odors are printers, perfume/cologne, gasoline vapors, paints. Ensure your workspace has adequate ventilation. You may need to ask a coworker to refrain from certain scents if possible. If not, consider asking for a change in seating or office arrangement.
Common light triggers include fluorescent lights and computer screens. Fluorescent lights can be turned off in your direct area or be covered with a film to reduce the brightness. Computer screens can be covered with anti-glare protectors, and the screen settings can be used to reduce the brightness. Also, take frequent breaks and look at objects at a distance to reduce eye strain. Looking at items at a distance, such as something across the street, relaxes the eye.
For loud sounds, try use noise-canceling headphones or ear plugs. Be careful to not wear hearing protection that causes you to be less alert in more dangerous work environments. Speak to your safety reps for your company’s specific guidelines. If you work in place that has quite and loud areas, ask to be moved to a quite area if possible.
Most migraines sufferers know what dietary triggers they must avoid. In general, it is key to stay hydrated at work, do not skip meals, and avoid caffeine if possible. Bringing home cooked meals is a good way to ensure you always have what you need that will not make your migraines worse.
Besides modifying your environment, it is also important that we remember our body posture while working. Good posture is essential to preventing stress to the spine, which can translate to neck pain and headaches. Stand erect with your head up and shoulders back. People who sit a computer most of the day should ensure they have a comfortable chair with lumbar support raised to the proper height. Take frequent break to minimize eye strain and repetitive injuries from typing.
If you would like more information about preventing migraines in your workplace, come see me at 45 Urgent Care.