Migraine and Work Productivity: Strategies for Employers and Employees

Migraine and Work Productivity: Strategies for Employers and Employees


Migraine attacks can significantly impact work productivity, leading to increased absenteeism, decreased performance, and decreased overall job satisfaction. It is important for both employers and employees to understand the impact of migraine attacks and implement strategies to effectively manage them in the workplace.

Understanding Migraine Triggers and Symptoms

Migraine attacks can be triggered by various factors such as stress, certain foods, lack of sleep, and hormonal changes. For example, bright lights, strong odors, and loud noises can trigger migraine attacks in susceptible individuals. Common symptoms of migraine attacks include severe headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and visual disturbances.

For employers and employees to effectively manage migraine attacks in the workplace, it is crucial to identify and address potential triggers. Employees should be encouraged to recognize their individual triggers and take steps to avoid or reduce their exposure to them. Employers can also play a role in creating a migraine-friendly work environment by reducing triggers such as bright lights, strong odors, and loud noises.

The Importance of Migraine Tracking for Employees

Tracking migraine attacks can provide valuable insights for employees in managing their condition at work. By keeping a record of symptoms and triggers, employees can identify patterns and potential triggers, enabling them to take proactive steps to manage their migraine attacks effectively. This can include avoiding certain foods or activities that trigger migraine attacks and practicing stress management techniques.

Migraine diaries or smartphone apps can be used to record details such as the time of onset, symptoms experienced, and potential triggers. This information can be shared with healthcare professionals to aid in accurate diagnosis and treatment. For example, if an employee notices that they frequently experience migraine attacks after consuming certain foods, they can work with a healthcare provider to modify their diet and reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.

How Employers Can Support Employees with Migraine Attacks

Employers can play a proactive role in supporting employees with migraine attacks by creating a migraine-friendly work environment. This can include reducing triggers such as bright lights, strong odors, and loud noises in the workplace. For example, employers can provide adjustable lighting options, limit the use of strong fragrances, and create quiet areas where employees can retreat during migraine attacks.

Employers can also offer flexible work arrangements or sick leave policies to accommodate employees during migraine attacks. This can include allowing employees to work from home or providing the option to make up for missed work hours at a later time. By being understanding and accommodating, employers can help employees manage their migraine attacks while minimizing the impact on their work productivity.

Strategies for Employees to Manage Migraine Attacks at Work

Employees themselves can adopt certain strategies to manage migraine attacks in the workplace. Effective communication with supervisors and colleagues is key, allowing them to explain the condition and its impact on work performance. By openly discussing their needs, employees can work with their supervisors and colleagues to find suitable solutions and accommodations.

Employees can also discuss potential accommodations or adjustments that may be required during migraine attacks, such as taking frequent breaks or working in a quieter environment. Prioritizing self-care and stress management, such as incorporating regular breaks and relaxation techniques into the workday, can also help in managing migraine attacks at work. For example, practicing deep breathing exercises or meditation during breaks can help alleviate migraine symptoms and reduce stress.

The Role of Healthcare Providers in Supporting Employees with Migraine Attacks

Accurate diagnosis and treatment are essential in managing migraine attacks effectively. Employees should seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and discuss potential medication options and preventive measures with their healthcare providers. This can include medications to relieve acute migraine symptoms as well as preventive medications to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.

Healthcare providers can collaborate with employers and employees by providing medical documentation for workplace accommodations and offering guidance on managing migraine attacks in the workplace. This partnership can ensure employees receive the support they need to manage their migraine attacks and maintain productivity at work. It is important for employees to communicate openly with their healthcare providers and provide relevant information about their work environment to enable the healthcare provider to make appropriate recommendations.

Case Studies and Success Stories

There are numerous examples of companies implementing migraine-friendly practices to support employees with migraine attacks. By creating a supportive work environment and implementing appropriate accommodations, these companies have seen improvements in employee productivity and overall job satisfaction.

For example, Company XYZ implemented adjustable lighting options and provided noise-canceling headphones to employees with migraine attacks, resulting in a significant reduction in migraine occurrences and improved work productivity. Additionally, personal stories from employees who have effectively managed migraine attacks at work can provide inspiration and practical tips for other individuals facing similar challenges.


Migraine attacks can have a significant impact on work productivity, but with the right strategies in place, employers and employees can effectively manage and mitigate the effects of migraine attacks in the workplace. Understanding common triggers, the importance of tracking migraine attacks, creating a migraine-friendly work environment, effective communication, and the role of healthcare providers are all essential components in fostering a healthier and more productive work environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can migraine attacks be considered a disability in the workplace?

Yes, migraine attacks can be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if they significantly impair an individual’s ability to perform major life activities, including work.

2. Can an employer ask for medical documentation regarding an employee’s migraine attacks?

Yes, an employer can ask for medical documentation if they need to provide workplace accommodations or if the employee is requesting leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

3. Can an employer discipline or terminate an employee for frequent absences due to migraine attacks?

An employer cannot discipline or terminate an employee for taking leave or absences related to a qualifying medical condition, such as migraine attacks, under the FMLA or ADA. However, employers may have attendance policies that apply to all employees, including those with migraine attacks.

4. Can employees request reasonable accommodations for migraine attacks?

Yes, employees can request reasonable accommodations for migraine attacks, such as adjustments to their work environment, flexible work schedules, or the ability to take breaks when needed. Employers are required to engage in an interactive process to determine the appropriate accommodations.

5. Can an employee with migraine attacks be fired for taking medications that may impair performance?

An employee with migraine attacks who takes medications that may impair performance should discuss this with their healthcare provider and determine if adjustments can be made to minimize the impact on work. Employers should consider reasonable accommodations before taking disciplinary action.

6. Are there any specific workplace policies or guidelines for managing migraine attacks?

There are no specific workplace policies or guidelines for managing migraine attacks, but employers can implement general practices such as creating a migraine-friendly work environment and offering flexible work arrangements or sick leave policies. Written policies may also be developed to address accommodations and absences related to migraine attacks.

7. Can an employee be denied a job or promotion because of migraine attacks?

An employer cannot legally deny a job or promotion solely based on an employee’s migraine attacks. Employers must make decisions based on an individual’s qualifications and abilities to perform the job, considering any necessary accommodations.

8. Can an employer require an employee to disclose their migraine attacks?

An employer cannot require an employee to disclose their migraine attacks unless the employee is requesting accommodations or leave under ADA or FMLA. However, voluntary disclosure may help the employer provide appropriate support and accommodations.

9. Can migraine attacks be managed without medication?

In some cases, migraine attacks can be managed without medication through lifestyle changes, trigger avoidance, stress management, and relaxation techniques. However, medication can be an effective treatment option for many individuals.

10. Can an employer require an employee to work during a migraine attack?

An employer should be understanding and accommodating towards employees who experience migraine attacks. If an employee is unable to work during a migraine attack, the employer should provide options such as allowing the employee to take a sick day or work from home, if possible.

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

You Will Also Like

Back to Blog

Leave your mobile to get a link to download the app