Migraines are nothing like standard headaches, yet many people, employers included, may not understand much about them. The Migraine Research Foundation states that over 10% of the population suffers from migraines, and that 90% of sufferers are not able to function normally or work during a migraine. If you choose to discuss your condition with your employer, here are some talking points to get you started.

Discuss the Effects of Your Migraines

Migraines affect each person differently. Your symptoms can change from each episode, and might include:

  • Seeing auras
  • An inability to sleep, or experiencing restless sleep
  • Watery eyes, clogged sinuses and other cold symptoms
  • Pain in your eyes and neck and a throbbing sensation in your head
  • Numbness or tingling in your skin, anywhere on the body

Many people are not aware of how migraines can affect you and your work performance. By being honest about what you’re experiencing, your employer can better understand how your job is impacted and work with you on the solutions.

Talk About Your Triggers

Migraines can be triggered by harsh lighting, nauseating room fresheners, strobe lights, certain foods or a wide range of other sensations. Others experience them at random and they have no discernible cause. Plenty of people do not understand that harsh colognes or overpowering cleaning products can be an issue, especially in your personal workspace.

Discuss Any Workarounds or Changes That Might Help

Depending on your job and the tasks you perform, there may be a lot of things you and your employer can discuss to make the situation easier. If possible, talk about flexible work hours. If a migraine is keeping you in bed, perhaps you could come in later in the day. For those who work on computers, working from home can be another great option. If you need to take time away from work for doctor’s appointments or testing, arrange for alternate hours. If you work for a large corporation, it might be best to sit down with your supervisor and someone from Human Resources to discuss all of the options available. Many companies offer flex-time, partially or full telecommuting or other options.

Working with a migraine can sometimes be impossible. However, with good communication, you and your employer can work together to find a mutually acceptable solution. Their understanding of your unique needs will make it easier for both of you.