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Migraine is a chronic neurological disease characterized by recurrent moderate to severe headaches often in association with a number of autonomic nervous system symptoms.

The word derives from the Greek ἡμικρανία (hemikrania), "pain on one side of the head", from ἡμι- (hemi-), "half", and κρανίον (kranion), "skull". Typically the headache affects one half of the head, is pulsating in nature, and lasts from 2 to 72 hours.

Associated symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, or smell. The pain is generally made worse by physical activity.

Stress is the most common trigger for migraine. If you experience a great deal of stress at your workplace, this can spell migraine. Noah Rosen, MD, director of the Headache Center at North Shore-LIJ’s Cushing Neuroscience Institute in Manhasset, New York says, “The reason stress is such a big trigger is because it often comes along with lots of other triggers like change in diet, loss of sleep, skipped meals, or too much caffeine.”

A lot of those can result from dealing with a high-stress job or a heavy workload. Studies show that the type of stress most likely to trigger migraine is everyday stress, not occasional big deal stress like getting married or having a baby.

To make living with migraine headaches easier, you have to figure out what and where your migraine triggers are.

For many people, the workplace is a trigger-happy environment. You can pinpoint your office triggers by keeping a migraine headache diary and including interactions with co-workers and your boss.
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Common Migraine Triggers At Work

The most common Migraine trigger at work is STRESS. Stress at work could involve working late hours, working under a deadline, difficult co-workers or an inconsiderate boss who doesn't care.

While stress may be the most common trigger, there are others which include: 
  • What You Eat and Drink. There are many types of food that may trigger a migraine, so it is important to keep track of what you eat at work, especially if you go off your diet during a break at work. Common triggers are lunch meats, chocolate. Even an artificial sweetener dumped into a quick cup of coffee could be the culprit.
  • Odours. Odour producing triggers at work could be perfumes, smoke, chemicals or cleaning products. If your co-worker smoking near your workplace, wearing a strong perfume, or the office cleaner uses a cleaning product with a strong fragrance, that alone could trigger your migraine. 
  • Noise. A noisy workplace could be your migraine trigger. Loud or sudden noise can trigger a migraine or make it worse.
  • Overexertion. If your work requires periods of significant physical exertion, that could be your migraine trigger. On the other hand, regular physical activity can be good for migraine. 
  • Travel. If your job requires you to travel, migraine triggers can be changes in your sleeping and eating patterns. Travel may also trigger migraine through changes in temperature, motion sickness, changes in altitude, even the stress of waiting in lines at the airport or bus station.
  • Lighting. Bright light, flickering light, and light from computer screens can all trigger a migraine headache because of sensory pathways involved with migraines. A study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience found that people with migraine are so sensitive to light.

Tips for Living With Migraine and Avoiding Your Triggers

The key to managing migraine headaches is recognizing your personal triggers. It is imporatant to keep a migraine diary, where you write down changes in your mood, stress level, sleep, foods, even the weather.

It might take some time before you can see patterns and clearly know what to avoid. In the meantime, try these self-care soothers:
  • Eat a healthy diet, and don’t skip meals especially breakfast.
  • Learn how to relax at your workstation with deep breathing, meditation, or just listening to your favorite music.
  • Get regular hours of sleep.
  • Drink plenty of water during the day.
  • Stretch every morning before work.
  • Engage in Yoga. This practice is beneficial to sore muscles, relieves pains, gives you a sense of wellbeing, and relieves stress.
  • Exercise 2-3 times a week. Exercising charges you with additional energy and improves your mood. Exercising and your level of activity influence your whole day at home and work. Doing sports does not require a gym membership. You can always practice simple things at home.
A study published in the journal Cephalalgia followed 91 patients with migraine headaches. One group of patients exercised for 40 minutes three times per week.

One group of patients listened to relaxations tapes, and a third group took a daily migraine prevention medication. After three months, all three groups had a reduction in their migraines — exercise and relaxation worked as well as medication.

No matter how busy your workday, it's important to make time for migraine prevention, especially with relaxation or exercise.

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