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Going to College with migraines

  • By Emily

    Hi everyone,
    I’m about to graduate high school and will be attending college in this fall. For the past year my daily migraines have been prevented with Botox injections, but the last round of injections are not working, so it is possible that I will be attending college with daily migraines.
    I’m hoping to hear from anyone who has experienced attending college with frequent (bad) migraines and how you (or someone you know) was able to (or not to) make it work. Originally I was planning to major in engineering, but because of the rigor of that major I am no longer sure.
    Any advice/stories would be incredibly helpful. How were you able to live in dorms, go to classes, and deal with homework in between migraine attacks. Thank you in advance!!!

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  • By Meaghan Coneys Moderator

    Hi Emily,

    Thank you for your post. Congrats on graduating high school and beginning college! You must be very excited, however perhaps a bit trepidatious due to chronic migraine. I’m sorry to hear your Botox treatments are not working. I am thinking of you and hoping you find a more effective treatment. In the meantime I thought you would find these articles helpful – https://migraine.com/blog/a-list-call-for-creature-comforts/, https://migraine.com/blog/community-responses-what-are-your-go-to-techniques-that-bring-you-comfort/. They provide self care tips for managing your migraine attack symptoms. Also, the following link will connect with some information about managing school and chronic migraine – https://migraine.com/migraines-in-children-and-teens/migraines-school/. I do feel community members will better provide you a more personal account of how they have managed their migraine attacks while in college, however felt you would find the following forms helpful – https://migraine.com/migraines-in-children-and-teens/forms-for-children/, https://migraine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Migraine-Form-for-College-Professors.pdf,
    https://migraine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Migraine-Form-for-Resident-Assistants.pdf. If you have any additional questions please do not hesitate to reach out. We will be thinking of you as you embark on your journey and head off to college. Really, a huge congratulations! Wishing you all the best today.

    Warmly,

    Meaghan (Migraine.com Team)

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  • By jns192 Moderator

    Hi Emily,
    Thank you for reaching out to us. Your story uncannily reminds me of myself when I graduated high school! I was dealing with chronic migraine and was very nervous to change my environment (change has always been a huge trigger for me). I have also tried botox and I was also an engineering major my freshman year!!

    Anyway, back to your question. It was definitely difficult adjusting to college- especially having a roommate. If you are interested in living alone, I would contact your school’s residence program to see what options you have. I know my 2nd year it was very difficult to get a single because of high demand. However, I was able to register with students for disabilities and they helped me tremendously as far as getting a single and authorizing certain amenities for me such as a humidifier and soft light lamp that were otherwise prohibited.

    Living alone was ideal for me because I got to control the lights, noise (to an extent), temperature, smells and other things that help me manage my migraine. However, I also began using earplugs and an eye mask when I went to sleep to further eliminate some of the triggers that weren’t in my control.

    As far as work and classes, I told my professors up front what I was dealing with. I think it is better to give them a heads up rather than wait for things to get really bad. Most, from my experience, were extremely understanding and even gave me extensions and/or make up exams in certain instances. You definitely need to find a balance of working hard on the days you feel better but not working too hard that it will trigger a migraine attack.

    If you haven’t already, I encourage you to express your concern to your neurologist and see if you can get prescriptions for different acute medications to see what works best for you. Perhaps s/he can also prescribe something stronger such as a steroid just in case you get a persistent migraine while at school and can’t get to the doctor’s office as conveniently.

    The forms that Meaghan provided in her post are awesome resources. I am sure your school has similar forms and if not, definitely present these to them.

    Please feel free to reach out with anymore questions or concerns.

    Best,
    Jillian (Migraine.com Team)

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