Ten Things to Know About Migraine Disease at Work

Chronic migraine disease often has a debilitating impact on 39 million Americans, including roughly one in five women. If left untreated, migraine disease can lead to serious health consequences – including depression and anxiety – as well as result in added healthcare costs.

Fortunately, there are treatments and accommodations that help individuals who suffer from migraine disease. The Migraine at Work campaign is educating employers and promoting awareness in the workplace about migraine disease so employees across the country can receive the support and care they need for successful employment. Below are the top ten things to know about migraines at work.

  1. Migraine disease is very common – in fact, twenty percent of Americans will suffer from migraine disease during their lifetime.1
  2. Migraine disease disproportionately and dramatically impacts women of working age, affecting roughly one in five women, making it one of the most common diseases facing women of working age.2
  3. Americans in their prime working years are most impacted by migraine disease, with 35 – 55-year-olds the cohort most likely to experience migraine disease.3
  4. Migraine disease can be debilitating – more than 90% of migraine disease sufferers are unable to work or function normally during their migraine.5,6
  5. Migraine disease can result in absenteeism and lost productivity and is responsible for a total of 113 million lost work days in the U.S. each year.7
  6. Lack of proper migraine disease care and treatment can lead to downstream economic and medical consequences, putting individuals at higher risk of depression, anxiety and chronic diseases.
  7. Helping employees manage their headaches can not only improve their quality of life, it can also improve their productivity on the job and their value to employers.8
  8. Open communication between employers and employees is effective in addressing migraine disease in the workplace.
  9. The exact causes of migraine disease are unknown, but commonly reported triggers include changing one’s routine, stressful situations, too much and too little sleep, caffeine, dehydration, certain foods and environmental factors.10
  10. Common workplace accommodations can make a significant difference for employees experiencing migraine disease – these can include limiting noise and lights in the workplace, promoting fragrance-free environments, setting aside a dark, quiet room for employees and considering flexible schedules.11


3 Lipton, RB; Stewart, WF; von Korff, M. 1997. Burden of migraine: societal costs and therapeutic opportunities. Abstract. Neurology 48, no. 3:(suppl 3):S4-S9 [PubMed]
5Burton, WN; Conti, DJ; Chen, CY; Shultz, AB; Edington, DW. 2002. The economic burden of lost productivity due to migraine headache: A specific worksite analysis. Abstract. J Occup Environ Med 44, no. 6:523-529.