Migraines and work

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last review date: November 2010

Unfortunately for many who deal with migraines, the disorder is at its peak during the most productive work years—from ages 35 through the 40s.

About 50 percent to 60 percent of people with migraines say their migraine symptoms make it difficult for them to get through their normal work day. These patients who participated in a 1996 U.K. study had 14 to 20 migraine attacks yearly.

See Also

Migraine in Families
Migraine Statistics
Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits: The Basics

Statistics on migraines and work

  • 90 percent postpone household chores because of migraines
  • 76 percent say they always have to lie down during migraines
  • 72 percent have difficulty performing work activities because of migraines
  • 67 percent have to cancel or postpone meetings and appointments
  • 50 percent say they generally have to miss work because of migraines
  • 15 percent say migraines may impact their chances of being promoted at work
  • 12 work days per year have effectiveness negatively impacted by migraines

(Note: taken from a 1996 U.K. study)

Another study of 122 working adults in 1998 who kept a migraine journal for 11 weeks, found they missed 1.1 days of work because of migraines in the three-month period. When those in the study worked during migraine attacks, their work effectiveness was reduced 41 percent.

Balancing migraines and work

Manage your migraine triggers — once you create and maintain a detailed migraine journal, you will have a good idea about what foods, events or environmental changes spark a migraine attack. By identifying your migraine triggers, you have a better chance of avoiding them.

Manage your schedule — maintaining a regular schedule for eating, sleeping, exercise, work and relaxation will help your body know what to expect. Try to keep your work pace steady so that you don’t need to work late to meet stressful deadlines or miss sleep to complete assignments.

Treat the first signs of migraine — treatment for migraines taken in the beginning, when migraine symptoms are typically mild works much better than migraine treatments taken later when you have severe migraine symptoms.

Consider preventive treatment — preventive or prophylactic migraine therapy is usually reserved for migraine sufferers who experience more than four migraines monthly.

Watch your stress level — too much excitement or stress can trigger a migraine during the elevated moments or afterwards.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.