Migraines affect more than the 12 million people who suffer from them. They also affect the millions of people who live and work with those suffering.


More than a third of people enduring migraines describe them as disabling. For those who live or work with a migraine sufferer, particularly one who has become temporarily disabled, there is a lot to consider.


Here are some things family, friends and co-workers should know:


  • Migraines are not simply headaches. They are a medical condition that may require treatment.


  • The best way to prevent migraines is to avoid triggers like loud noises, bright lights, or certain foods and smells.


  • Migraines can prevent a person from working, being social or doing anything at all. They can also cause people to act out emotionally.


  • For those with the most serious migraines, their entire quality of life can be affected as fear of the next attack weighs on them.


As a friend, family member, or coworker of a migraine sufferer, you may feel helpless when a migraine hits. However, there are things you can do to to make the person more comfortable and alleviate some of the pain.


Here are a few tips for living or working with someone in the midst of a migraine:


  • Work to understand what actions, foods, changes in weather, etc. might be their personal migraine triggers.


  • If you’re with someone in the middle of a migraine episode, move them to a place that is quiet, dark and private if possible.


  • It helps to have eyeshades and ear plugs handy, as well as access to ice and soothing smells like lavender and menthol.


  • Cover for them at work if you can and make sure other co-workers understand what the person with the migraine is experiencing.


  • If you live with someone in the midst of an attack, drawing them a warm bath is often therapeutic.


  • When a debilitating migraine hits, even the simplest tasks can seem impossible. Offering to prepare a meal, bring food, or get medicine can be immensely helpful.


  • Don’t forget about yourself. Caregivers may sometimes need a respite themselves. Ask for help, take a break and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. You can’t help the person you’re caring for unless you are healthy yourself.


Migraines can alter a person’s life, but with the support and compassion of family, friends, and coworkers, they can be a lot easier to live with.