Ouch! Does your head hurt at the mention of the word migraine? As you may know, a migraine is much more than just a bad headache. In addition to throbbing head pain, individuals with migraines may experience double vision, nausea, and sensitivity to light. As these episodes can be intense and unexpected, people that suffer from migraines are often forced to stop whatever they are doing and lie down.
Due to COVID-19, many people are experiencing an increased number of migraines. This is likely due to environmental changes, such as differences in light, climate, or even a new workplace.
If you’ve been experiencing these symptoms, here are some ways you can fight back against the mighty migraine.
What is a Migraine?
A migraine is a neurological condition that affects both children and adults. Migraines are characterized by a throbbing, splitting pain that is typically located on an area of the head. Some sufferers also experience nausea, vomiting, tingling sensations, and sensitivity to external stimuli such as light and sound.
What Triggers Migraines?
There are many different factors that can trigger a migraine – caffeine intake, , food triggers, hormonal triggers, lack of sleep, fluorescent lighting, and stress all contribute to migraine episodes. However, even without these factors, migraines can still occur from out of nowhere.
How to Reduce Migraines at Work
To this day, no one knows the exact cause of migraines. However, it is clear that some migraines are brought on because of environmental factors. Any external stimuli that trigger our five senses can also trigger migraines.
As an employer, you want to adjust the work environment to lessen the risk of employees being sidelined by a migraine. You can consider a no-perfume policy as well as encourage a quiet workplace. If possible, dim the lights in the office. People that suffer from migraines are often sensitive to bright lights. As a result, creating a comfortable work environment will help to prevent migraines.
If you are an employee that suffers from migraines, dim the lights in your office as well as your computer screen. Computer screens emit blue-light, which can also trigger migraine episodes. If you find it difficult to stare at a computer screen all day, blue-light blocking glasses can help to take some of the edge off. You can also purchase an anti-glare filter for your computer monitor.
Lastly, stress can also contribute to migraine episodes. Employees that face upcoming deadlines, or have a lot of things on their plate are especially prone to migraines. If you’re feeling overworked, talk to your employer and come up with a plan to reduce stress. You’ll also be reducing the frequency of migraines.
Green Light for Migraine Relief
As mentioned earlier, light sensitivity is a common symptom of migraines. Unfortunately, many offices contain fluorescent lights, which are a known trigger for migraines. If your office lights are unbearable, consider using green light as an alternative. According to Harvard researchers, they found that when migraine sufferers were exposed to green light, the severity of their migraines was greatly reduced. Pick up a green light lamp or light bulb today, and see if it makes a difference.
What Can an Employer Do When an Employee is Missing Work for Migraines?
Statistics show over 90% of migraine sufferers are unable to work when experiencing a migraine. Coupled with the fact that migraines affect a large percentage of people, there’s a good reason to believe that as an employer, you will encounter at least one employee who is unable to work due to migraine headaches.
To help your employees maintain productivity, you’ll want to be aware of a few things. First, it’s important to know that employees that experience migraines at work may fall under the same protection as employees with disabilities or major illnesses. In fact, according to employment law, migraines count as a serious illness; and in some cases, may even qualify as a disability.
When an employee is experiencing migraines at work, it is important to offer them additional accommodations. Some of these include:
• Flexible hours: Letting your employees set their own hours greatly helps them out. As migraines can appear at any time, they’ll appreciate the freedom to stop working when an episode gets triggered. Once the migraine subsides, they can return to work without fear of being chastised.
• Working from home: Due to COVID-19, many companies allow their employees to work remotely. For those suffering from migraines, working from home may act as a permanent solution. Employees that work from home have the freedom to change the environment to suit their needs. As a result, this can prevent or alleviate the frequency of migraines. It also allows employees to lie down when necessary, which speeds up the recovery process.
• A migraine-friendly break room: If space allows it, try creating a migraine-friendly space at the office. To prevent accidental stimulation that may trigger a migraine episode, ensure it’s a dark, quiet room with comfortable seating.
• Isolate the employee: Employees that have difficulty with migraines at work can be isolated as an accommodation. Similar to a migraine-friendly break room, the goal is to create a safe space for employees to work in. You can do this by ensuring the room is dimly-lit, as well as a fragrance-free zone. Keep the space quiet and provide noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs if necessary.
• Fluorescent light filters: If dimming the lights isn’t an option, consider using fluorescent light filters to create a more natural light source. This helps to reduce the effects of bright fluorescent lights, and prevent migraines.
- Provide a Direct Primary Care (DPC) program to your employees. When our employee has DPC, they can be seen immediately. At Well Life ABQ, we have multiple options that can stop a migraine immediately. This is a huge benefit to your employee AND they can get back to work. It also avoids the high-cost of urgent care or emergency rooms.
Standard Solutions for Migraine Attacks
Besides finding a dark room and laying down, medication can also be used to treat migraines. This choice of medication usually depends on how severe the headache is, and what works best for the individual. For those with mild to moderate migraine headaches, simple pain-relievers like NSAIDs or acetaminophen can be used.
For moderate to severe migraine headaches, oral triptans and ergots are a common first choice. Some examples of oral triptans include eletriptan, zolmitriptan and sumatriptan. A one-time injection of toradol is very effective. Well Life ABQ also has the ability to provide something called an SPG nerve block and/or a magnesium infusion.
When migraine headaches are associated with nausea or vomiting, an antiemetic drug is usually prescribed in conjunction with pain relievers. Examples of these drugs include phenergan or zofran, which help to reduce vomiting and nausea.
In cases of debilitating or severe migraine headaches wherein none of the initial interventions work, if your employee does not have a DPC provider, they may need to visit an urgent care or emergency room where IV medications are always readily available. As you may also experience intractable vomiting and severe nausea, being under the supervision of healthcare workers is recommended. .
According to Smith (2020), the following medications are some of the standard first-line treatments for severe migraine attacks:
- Sumatriptan 6 mg subcutaneous injection
- Metoclopramide 10 mg intravenous (IV)
- Prochlorperazine 10 mg IV or intramuscular (IM)
- Chlorpromazine 0.1 mg/kg (or 12.5 mg) single dose as a slow IV infusion
- Dihydroergotamine (1 mg IV) combined with metoclopramide (10 mg IV)
- Ketorolac (Toradol) 30 mg IV or 60 mg IM
At Well Life ABQ, our Direct Primary Care clinic can provide your member employees with fast-acting parenteral medication to help you feel better. We also carry toradol shots, which provide quick relief from severe migraine attacks, as well as migraine medications such as NSAIDs, triptans and antiemetics.
Other Preventive Measures for Migraine Headaches
Instead of reaching for medication whenever migraines occur, it’s much more efficient to simply prevent them from happening in the first place. Good sleeping habits and regular exercise can help to prevent migraine headaches, as well as knowing exactly what triggers them.
Food sensitivity testing can also help to prevent migraines. Some studies have linked inflammation from certain foods as a trigger for migraine headaches. Thus, it is beneficial to know what foods you may be allergic to, in order to prevent triggering an inflammatory response.
Food sensitivity testing makes use of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect the presence of IgG (antibodies) against specific food allergens. A normal panel test contains over 100 different food allergens to narrow down what causes inflammation. Once a specific allergen is identified, you want to avoid food that contains that allergen to prevent and reduce the frequency of migraines.
For women, migraine headaches can also be linked to hormonal imbalances. “Menstrual migraines” usually occur 2 days or 3 days before or after a woman’s period. These headaches are caused by changing levels of estrogen and progesterone – a sudden drop in these hormones can trigger a migraine attack. A comprehensive treatment plan should include preventive options when migraines occur “on schedule”.
Birth control pills are another option. These pills have been found to either worsen or possibly relieve migraines. For women that are prone to menstrual migraines, they should take birth control pills with lower concentrations of estrogen and progesterone.
Similar to birth control pills, pregnancy can also exacerbate or lessen migraine attacks depending on which trimester the mother is in. If you are pregnant, consult with a doctor before taking any medication to check if it’s safe for the baby.
Migraine headaches can be a real pain. Our direct primary care clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico can help to relieve the pain of migraines, as well as lessen the frequency of them.
At Well Life ABQ, we have solutions to help you combat migraine-induced side effects, as well as any other health issues you may be facing. We also offer direct primary care plans that provide many advantages over traditional healthcare methods.
DPC offers cost-saving benefits for both employees and employers, and makes the treatment process much more enjoyable. If you’re looking to be treated with the care and attention you deserve, get in touch with us today to find out how we can help!