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Migraine Headaches

Release Date: July 7, 2022

Headaches are one of the most common pain-related health problems in both children and adults. They can cause tension and pain in the head, face, or upper neck and can vary in frequency and intensity. While almost everyone has experienced a headache, and many are nothing to worry about, some headaches, such as migraines, are recurring and can be extremely painful.

Migraine headaches are pulsing, throbbing sensations, usually on one side of the head or behind an eye. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), migraine pain and symptoms affect 29.5 million Americans. Headaches can last from 4 to 72 hours and are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. People with migraines tend to have recurring attacks triggered by several different factors, including stress, anxiety, emotional strain, hormonal changes, sinus problems, certain foods and beverages, smells, bright or flashing lights, lack of sleep, and medications, or dietary substances.

There is no absolute cure for migraine headaches, however, there are ways it can be treated and managed to help you feel better.

Here are some tips to help stop a migraine after it starts:

  • Apply a cold, moist cloth or ice pack to your forehead and temples.
  • Rest in a quiet, comfortable, dark room.
  • Rub or apply pressure to the spot where you feel pain.
  • Take medications exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Begin relaxation techniques as soon as your headache starts.

Below are tips to help prevent migraine headaches:

  • Schedule an appointment with your doctor to get a prompt diagnosis and treatment of symptoms.
  • Identify and avoid your headache triggers.
  • Sit and stand with good posture to avoid muscle tension in your neck, shoulders, and lower back.
  • Reduce eye strain from computers, tablets, and phones.
  • Get regular exercise, quality sleep, and eat healthy foods on a regular schedule.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.
  • Reduce stress and headache pain with methods such as meditation, yoga, or cognitive positive thinking.

For more information and resources on migraines, visit the HHS migraine informational website.

Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Can Help

If you or someone you care about is having trouble managing stress or mental disorders associated with migraine headaches, your Component Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help. Your EAP can provide both you and your eligible household members with free confidential support without stigma for migraine sufferers. EAP assistance is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information, contact your Component EAP, or send an email to worklife@hq.dhs.gov.

Last Updated: 07/07/2022
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