Migraine Awareness Week
This week (3-9 September 2017) is Migraine Awareness Week http://www.migraine.org.uk/get-involved/migraine-awareness-week
For the one in seven of us suffering from regular migraines, they’re not just a headache, but can represent hours lost in a fog of pain and debilitating symptoms. Headaches and migraines are one of the main causes of absence from work.
What is a migraine?
A migraine is a complex neurological condition. It’s commonly accompanied by a pounding headache, but not always. It affects twice as many women as men and can strike at any age.
According to migraine.org.uk, if you have two or more of the following symptoms, it is likely you are suffering from a migraine:
- Visual disturbances (blind spots, distorted vision, flashing lights or zigzag patterns)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Increased sensitivity to light, sounds or smells
- Stiffness of the neck and shoulders
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Tingling or stiffness in the limbs
- An inability to concentrate
- Difficulty in speaking
- Paralysis or loss of consciousness (in very rare cases)
What causes a migraine?
Contrary to popular belief, you can’t always blame your migraine on an excess of cheese or chocolate. There can be a huge number of diet and lifestyle factors at play and it’s not always clear what they are.
If you’re struggling with frequent migraines and there’s no obvious trigger, it’s worth trying to identify a pattern www.migraine.org.uk/product/migraine-diary using a tracking app or diary. This can help you and your doctor develop a treatment plan that may reduce the frequency or severity of attacks.
What treatment is available for migraines?
Unfortunately there is no single treatment that can successfully alleviate migraines in all patients. Preventative medication may work for some, while complementary therapies are successful for others. It may be a case of trial and error until you find a treatment that works for you.
In the meantime, some simple tips you might like to try are:
- Eat regularly, avoid sugary snacks and include slow-release carbohydrates in your diet.
- Drink 2 litres of water a day.
- Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
- Maintain a regular sleep pattern.
- Take regular exercise.
- Take care with your posture.
- Get plenty of fresh air and practise deep breathing.
- Avoid strong perfumes, bright, flashing or flickering lights and large reflective surfaces (e.g. plain white walls).
- Wear sunglasses and/or a hat in bright sunlight.
- Learn relaxation techniques.
3 ways employers can help staff who suffer from migraines
If a member of your team suffers from migraines, there are a few ways you can support them. Remember most migraines won’t disappear with a glass of water and a couple of paracetamol. Migraines can last between 4 and 72 hours and leave the patient unable to focus or even function properly. If someone in your team is suffering with a migraine, they may need to go home and rest – away from any stimuli.
These 3 tips will provide a healthier work environment for all staff, and might also reduce the incidence of workplace migraines.
- Encourage regular breaks away from the screen and a walk outside if possible at lunchtime.
- Ensure your workspace is ergonomically friendly with adjusted computer screens and anti-glare filters.
- Keep a window open and try to keep rooms at a constant temperature.
If you think you’re suffering from migraines, especially if they’ve started suddenly, speak to your doctor or healthcare professional about the different treatments available. You can also contact Migraine Action on their helpline on 08456 011 033 or visit their website at www.migraine.org.uk.