Patient Blogs | Migraine
How I Survive Migraine Episodes at Work
photo of young woman working in office

Can you work while having a migraine episode? It depends, especially since everyone is different and has varying degrees of severity. When it comes to living with migraine, being prepared for the unexpected isn't an option, it's a necessity. Here are some tips that may come in handy at work when dealing with migraine triggers and episodes.

Since I'm easily triggered if I overheat, I always keep a small fan hidden under my desk to keep my legs and feet relaxed. I live in South Florida, so keeping my workspace at the right temperature is essential.

Try nausea medicine, especially before a big meeting if you're presenting. I'm not sure why this works, but I've stopped “that feeling” in its tracks several times. 

If you have to be on a computer or phone calls all day long:

  • F.lux plugin. I use the f.lux plugin on my computer. It’s a free download that warms my computer display at night to match your indoor lighting. I also have "night mode" enabled on my iPhone. I spend a lot of time staring at screens, and we all know that's not good for migraine warriors. I saw immediate benefits when I began strategically adjusting the brightness on my devices.
  • TheraSpecs. I've tried the blue/green glasses from Amazon, but for me, TheraSpecs are the only ones that have made a difference.
  • Wear a hat or hoodie. In addition to the TheraSpecs, wear a hat or a hoodie to block the light from above, noise-canceling headphones (white noise or just silent) when not on calls, and make sure your chair, keyboard, and phone setup are comfortable.
  • WeatherX earplugs. These earplugs are perfect if your migraine episodes are triggered by high air pressure. I use that along with a barometer app on my iPhone to know when I'm at high risk.
  • No music while working. I love working with music or the TV playing in the background. But for some people, it's a migraine trigger.  
  • Reading ruler plugin. Depending on how my eyes feel, a reading ruler-type plugin is super helpful by preventing text from wobbling all over the screen and helping me focus my attention.
  • Use speakerphone. I use my phone on speaker instead of a headset. Try this ASAP. I find speaker mode creates less painful and echoey vibrations in my head.
  • I always carry peppermint essential oil to put on my forehead, neck, temples, and scalp. It feels almost icy without keeping an ice pack on for when that's not possible. Remember to dilute the oil with a moisturizer or lotion. 

An occupational therapist taught me a trick: Rub your palms together for a couple of seconds, then put your warmed palms over your eyes. Stay like that for a couple of minutes.

The absolute darkness and warmth will help alleviate some of the stress and pain in your eyes. When I was still in the office, I used to do this in the bathroom for relief.

My most preventative tip if you experience a migraine at work: Go home as soon as possible. Convincing yourself to stay for just a couple more emails will only make it harder to recover and work the next day. Do what you can, and then log off. Your health should be your main priority. 

Tap into a community of fellow migraineurs on Facebook. Learn, share, connect in our Migraine Support Community.



Photo Credit: YakobchukOlena / iStock viaGetty Images Plus

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Naki Carter

Naki Carter

Diagnosed since 2001

For nearly 20 years, Naki Carter has been living with migraine. Formerly an award-winning journalist, she is committed to ending the stigma around the invisible illness. Carter lives in South Florida near lots of family and friends, where she enjoys a daily dose of “vitamin sea.” Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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