25 million workdays lost each year due to migraine

Headaches and migraines are no longer a personal matter

Having headaches or migraines is no longer a personal matter – it’s costing the economy money. According to research from the Headache Clinic almost 25 million working days in South Africa are lost each year due to workers taking headaches or migraine related leave.

Suffers often fear losing their jobs because of a lack of understanding from colleagues and employers which adds to stress within themselves as well as affecting the environment they work in daily.

As much as 40% of migraine sufferers feel their colleagues are cynical about their migraines and believe it is “just a headache‟ and nearly 74% feel judged if they have to take time off work due to their migraine.

Tips for colleagues with migraine

  • Eat and drink sensibly at work.
  • Drink plenty of water, limit your intake of drinks with caffeine and eat regularly to maintain blood sugar levels throughout the day.
  • Get some fresh air and exercise during breaks/ lunch if possible. If you work at a desk,get up regularly to ease stiffness and tension – even if this is to simply walk a few paces.
  • Ensure your workstation is set up correctly. This will help to reduce factors like bad posture and eye strain which contribute to triggering attacks.
  • Arrange a meeting with your employer or superior to discuss the condition. How you are managing it and in particular the simple ways they can help, will be useful information. Factors like ensuring the office is well ventilated and is maintained at a suitable temperature can make all the difference.

Tips for employers

  • Many migraine sufferers are light sensitive. Fit blinds to avoid bright sunlight and maintain lighting to minimize flickering. Adding anti-glare filters to computers can also really help.
  • If a colleague is affected by migraine, arrange a meeting to discuss how you can support them. For example some sufferers find strong smells can trigger an attack. Simply asking colleagues to avoid strong perfume or aftershave could be a key way to prevent attacks at work.
  • Encourage an environment of understanding at your organisation. Many migraine sufferers try to “battle on” at the onset of an attack for fear that others will think they are letting them down. However, in most cases this will make the attack worse, By feeling able to take action early (such resting in a quiet/darkened room) a colleague may be able to abort the attack quickly and get back to work.

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