When Migraines Interfere With Your Life

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on February 05, 2021

Normal headaches hurt your head. Migraines can make you feel like your head is going to explode. Sometimes you just can't power through them. Even with medication, you may have to stop what you're doing until they go away.

Migraines can last for days. Because you might be at work or away from home, you might not be able to crawl under the covers in a dark room for all that time. There are things you can do when migraines disrupt your life.

Have a Plan

Know what to do when a migraine hits:

  • If you can, lie down in a dark, quiet, cool room. If you can't lie down, try to go somewhere that you can at least turn out the lights.
  • Have hot or cold compresses on hand. Use them on your head or neck. Choose the temperature and place that feels best to you.
  • Put gentle pressure on painful areas of your temples and scalp. Try light massage if it feels good. Don’t do anything that hurts.
  • Drink coffee or soda. A small amount of caffeine can ease the ache early on when a headache starts. If you pair it with an over-the-counter painkiller, it can help the medicine work better.


Know Your Triggers

Sometimes migraines come out of nowhere. Other times they’re tied to a specific trigger. You likely have an idea of what sorts of things cause your headaches. It may be certain foods or the weather. It could be smells, travel, or your hormones.

Medicine can help prevent some headaches, but it doesn't always work. Because you can't always ward off all your migraines, plan around what starts them.

Skipping meals can trigger migraines, so eat regularly. Don't plan a day where you won't have time to eat. Too much or not enough sleep can also bring on a headache. Be sure to get the right amount.

Knowing your migraine triggers can help you plan the activities in your life a little better. That way you can still do things with family and friends before a migraine starts.

When Migraines Hit at Work

There's a chance a headache will hit while you're on the job. Do some prep work so you know what to do and the people around you know what to expect.

  • Talk to your boss or HR department. Let them know about your migraines and that you might need to come in late or leave early if you have one.
  • Be prepared. Keep medicine with you and take it as soon as you feel a migraine coming on. Have a heat pack or cold pack on hand if you can. Find a dark, quiet place you can go. 

Migraines and Your Family

Not only does your headache affect you, it can also impact the people around you. You may cancel plans with family and friends because you don't feel well. You might put off outings or chores. Kids often worry about sick parents.

It's key to talk to those closest to you. Tell them how you feel, and be open about asking for help when you need it.

Show Sources


National Migraine Centre: "Migraine: How to live with it." "Migraines."

Mayo Clinic: "Migraine: Self-management," "Migraines: Simple steps to head off the pain."

American Migraine Foundation: "What to do When a Migraine Comes Out of Nowhere and You Are at Work."

Mayo Clinic Proceedings: "Impact of Migraine on the Family: Perspectives of People With Migraine and Their Spouse/Domestic Partner in the CaMEO Study."

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