Headaches on the Job Prevalent, Painful
headaches at work is not only painful for employees, but can be costly
to employers, according to the National Headache Foundation (NHF). In a
recent survey of headache sufferers, the NHF found that 99 percent of
respondents experience headaches while on the job. Respondents say
headaches lead to missed days of work, decreased productivity,
inability to concentrate, and changes in mood or behavior.
half of all survey respondents reported missing anywhere from 1-3 days
of work per month because of their headaches, 66 percent of them do not
report their headaches to their supervisors. When asked why, most
respondents said they feel their supervisor wouldn’t be
sympathetic or accommodating or they don’t want to be labeled
as "needy" or "whiny." Additionally, 86 percent of respondents said the
issue of work-related headaches has never been addressed at their place
of employment. Ninety-three percent said that information on
work-related headache treatment or prevention is not available through
who suffer from headaches at work feel their employers or co-workers
won’t understand the severity of their condition," said Dr.
Nabih Ramadan, a board member of the NHF. "If you experience headaches
on the job, talk with your healthcare provider about what triggers your
pain to determine the best treatment options. You can also encourage
your employer to learn more about headaches and their profound negative
impact on workplace performance."
asked what triggers headaches at work, nearly 70 percent of the
respondents attributed their pain to work-related stress. A larger
majority also associated bright or florescent lighting, computer glare
or eye strain with their headaches.
NHF survey results:
percent of respondents said they work outside their home
percent of respondents said headaches have affected their performance
percent of respondents said they take an over-the-counter product when
experiencing a headache at the workplace
Tips to dealing with headaches at the workplace:
- Get help.
Discuss the connection between your headaches and work with your
healthcare provider. He or she can help you determine your treatment
- Track your headaches.
Using a headache diary, track your headaches for three months. Download
a free headache diary at www.headaches.org and bring your results to
your healthcare professional to review and determine whether your
headaches are associated with workplace triggers.
- Eliminate florescent lighting
- Use a non-glare computer
- Use loose telephone head set
instead of phone receiver
- Take frequent breaks
- Utilize ergonomically
designed work spaces
30 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches, which are most
commonlyexperienced between the ages of 15 and 55. Seventy to eighty
percent of sufferers have a family history of migraine. Less than half
of all migraine sufferers have received a diagnosis of migraine from
their healthcare professional. Migraine is often misdiagnosed as sinus
or tension-type headache.
NHF, founded in 1970, is a non-profit
organization which exists to enhance the healthcare of headache
more information on the NHF, visit www.headaches.org.