Ask any female migraineur and she will retort how enduring a migraine headache is. And if she is a working woman, her response will be worse!

As with any chronic disease, migraine sufferers too lead a reduced quality of life. The fear of migraine attacking anytime compels most migraineurs to shun some of the simple pleasures of life. However, for a working woman, things can get trickier as she has an increased responsibility towards professional commitments.

“Post delivery my migraine has worsened significantly to a level that I lose nearly 2-3 precious working days in a month leading to reduced productivity and increased stress”  – Deepti

Working and living with an invisible disorder  

Suffering from migraine headaches can negatively impact a working woman’s ability to manage her professional responsibilities effectively. Just like Deepti, scores of women complain about reduced productivity at work due to migraine. According to findings of a study, 89% of individuals reported a very low level of job performance during migraine attacks. In addition, headaches caused more than 50% of migraine patients to leave work for 2 days each month1.

Read our blog on Managing Office Stress Related Migraine

“Sometimes colleagues believe that a woman is using migraine as an excuse for escaping difficult tasks, hence due to the feeling of shame many women prefer to silently suffer the painful ordeal.” – Rita.

To avoid being doubted, many women push themselves to continue working despite having a migraine attack. The threat of being doubted can even force women to hide about her condition at work place, and try to cover up the symptoms. This leads to continuous worry, limitations in their productivity, reduced performance appraisals and the baggage of living with a condition that is invisible to others.

Tips for managing migraine symptoms in working women

Luckily, there are some tips a working woman can use to manage her migraine effectively.

1) Confide in a colleague about your condition –

The more you are open about your migraine, the better your colleagues would be able to understand you. Confide in your closest colleague about the intensity of your headache so that they can be empathetic towards you and bail you out in your most difficult situations.

2) Let you manager know –

Along with a colleague, let your manager also know about your condition so that your frequent leaves/half day works should not irk him/her.

3) Organise your work –

Create a time table of your work and deadlines and try to stay ahead of your schedule. Prioritize your work load and delegate your responsibilities on days you are down with the migraine attack.

Similarly, get additional help at home to get through with the migraine attack. Finding alternates to manage your household responsibilities is equally important.

4) Sleep well but do not oversleep –

Getting 8 hours of sleep daily is a good medicine for migraine. A well rested body is much more capable of handling stress and headache than a tired body.

5) Take a break –

On days of migraine attack, do not force your body to work. You need rest and a dark, cosy environment (which you office cannot provide you). Take a break from work that day and rest as much as possible.

6) Keep your medicines handy –

Follow your doctor’s prescription and take your medicine as soon as you sense danger.

Conclusion –

Migraine can permanently accompany a woman throughout her life. It could strike hard without any notice, and can be incapacitating to an extent that women have to slow down her life, or even put it on hold for the moment. Moreover, working women are obliged to make adjustments and fight a never-ending struggle to control and avoid their migraine at work as well as at home.

With empathy from loved ones and colleagues, working women can improve their professional, personal and social life, despite suffering from the invisible disorder.


For working women, managing migraine headache can get trickier due to her increased responsibility towards professional commitments.

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  1. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2012 Feb; 17(2 Suppl1): S65–S71.

Migraine is defined as a chronic disabling condition which influences all physical, mental, and social dimensions of quality of life. Some 12-15% of the world population suffers from migraine. The disease is more common among women. The onset, frequency, duration, and severity of migraine attacks may be affected by other predisposing factors including nutrition. Therefore, determining these factors can greatly assist in identification and development of its prevention. Considering the importance of nutrition in maintaining and promoting health and preventing diseases, the present study was conducted to determine the relationship between headaches and nutritional habits (frequency and type of consumed foods) of women suffering from migraine.

Materials and Methods:

This analytical case-control study was conducted on 170 women (in two groups of 85) selected by convenient sampling for the case group and random sampling for the control group. Data collection tool was a 3-section questionnaire including personal information, headache features, and nutritional habits. The questionnaire was completed in an interview performed by the researcher. The data was then analyzed in SPSS using descriptive statistical tests (frequency distribution, mean, and standard deviation) and inferential tests (chi-square, independent t, Mann-Whitney, and Spearman’s correlation tests).


The results demonstrated a significant relationship between headache and some food items including proteins, carbohydrates, fat, fruits and vegetables. To be more precise, there were significant relationships between headaches and the frequency of consumption of red meat (p = 0.01), white meat (p = 0.002), cereals (p = 0.0005), vegetables (p = 0.009), fruits (p = 0.0005), salad dressing (p = 0.03), and eggs (p = 0.001). Moreover, a significant relationship existed between headache and type of consumed oil, meat, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables (p < 0.05).


It is necessary to put more emphasis on the significance of correcting dietary patterns in order to prevent headache attacks and reduce the complications arising from drug consumption in migraine patients. Social and economical efficiency of the patients will thus be enhanced.

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