Helping Others Understand Migraine

Speaking with your employer about migraine

You may be thinking about talking to your boss about your migraines. But every workplace is different, and how much you should disclose to your supervisors and to your co-workers is up to you. There may be a lot to be gained by broaching the subject. Telling your boss about your migraines may make you feel vulnerable. But concealing your migraines makes it difficult to miss work if you have a medical appointment. If you feel you should discuss your migraines in your workplace, it's best to have a clear-cut plan of action. With the right approach, you can guide your employer to understand what it is like to deal with migraines. And that migraines, though at times truly disruptive, can be dealt with more effectively if your employer is on board with what you're doing about them.

In the end, it's a call that only you can make. A good guide might be to look at how other co-workers with health issues are treated. Remember, if you're taking TOPAMAX, your migraines may be less frequent, so they should be more manageable. This should also make them easier to discuss. Also, don't forget that very few people's lives are not touched by some form of illness. Co-workers and supervisors may be more understanding than you'd expect. Remember, you are not alone.

If you do decide to discuss your migraines, it's important that you explain that you have a medical condition. You might want to share some useful resource links that explain migraines from a professional's view. Above all, emphasize that you and your healthcare professional are managing your migraines.

Dealing with co-workers

Always be straightforward. Don't talk too much about how you feel. If you can work, always do your job well because people will remember it on the days when you cannot work. If you feel too sick, consider going home.

Little things can make all the difference

Now that you've tackled the difficult discussion, be sure to consider the following:

  • Ask co-workers to go easy on the perfume and cologne, since odors are often migraine triggers.
  • Don't skip lunch because you have to work - if necessary, brown-bag it so you don't resort to a vending machine snack attack.
  • Use an antiglare screen on your computer - bright lights also can be a migraine trigger.
  • If your work area is too bright, ask if you can adjust the lighting or move to another area.
  • Limit your caffeine intake.

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Talking to family and friends about migraines

You're doing something about your migraines, and that's both courageous and wonderful. Now it's time to share with your family and friends about migraines.

Migraines can be a family affair. Because they may not just affect you, but everyone in your life. You might think that speaking to the people you're closest to would be easy. And sometimes, it is. But the people who love you most don't usually know how to help. They are the ones who need to understand how you deal with migraines, and what you're doing now to help treat them more effectively.

Maybe you've got a notion of how you'd like to start. You'll find solid advice, and plenty of tips, in our Family and Friends Action Plan.

Talking to your kids about migraines

The best way to handle migraines with your children is to talk about them. Ask questions about what they are thinking. Try to ease some of their concerns. Keep it simple. Let the child guide the discussion. Children of different ages, and even different children of the same age, will have their own set of questions and concerns.

Your family and friends action plan

An important part of migraine management is keeping your commitments even when you don't feel well. That's why it's a good strategy to get in the habit of keeping an Action Plan that you can print out and post on a bulletin board or put on your refrigerator for everyone to see. Not only will it keep the family organized, it will help you minimize stress, which can be a migraine trigger.

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Attention TOPAMAX® Patients and Medical Professionals
Dispensing errors have been reported between TOPAMAX® (topiramate) tablets and TOPROL-XL® (metoprolol succinate) extended-release tablets.

Please be sure to check your tablets to ensure you are taking the right medicine.

*TOPROL-XL is a registered trademark of the AstraZeneca group of companies.

TOPAMAX® is a prescription medication used:
  • To prevent migraine headaches in adults and adolescents 12 years of age and older. TOPAMAX® is not used to stop a migraine after its starts.


Warnings and Precautions

TOPAMAX® may cause eye problems. Serious eye problems include: sudden decrease in vision with or without eye pain and redness; blockage of fluid in the eye causing increased pressure in the eye (secondary angle closure glaucoma). These eye problems can lead to permanent loss of vision if not treated. You should call your healthcare professional right away if you have any new eye symptoms.

TOPAMAX® may cause decreased sweating and increased body temperature (fever). People, especially children, should be watched for signs of decreased sweating and fever, especially in hot temperatures. Some people may need to be hospitalized for this condition. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have a high fever, a fever that does not go away, or decreased sweating.

TOPAMAX® can increase the level of acid in your blood (metabolic acidosis). If left untreated, metabolic acidosis can cause brittle or soft bones (osteoporosis, osteomalacia, osteopenia), kidney stones, can slow the rate of growth in children, and may possibly harm your baby if you are pregnant. Metabolic acidosis can happen with or without symptoms. Sometimes people with metabolic acidosis will: feel tired, not feel hungry (loss of appetite), feel changes in heartbeat, or have trouble thinking clearly. Your healthcare provider should do a blood test to measure the level of acid in your blood before and during your treatment with TOPAMAX®. If you are pregnant, you should talk to your healthcare provider about whether you have metabolic acidosis.

Like other antiepileptic drugs, TOPAMAX® may cause suicidal thoughts or actions in a very small number of people, about 1 in 500. Pay attention to any changes and call your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms, especially if they are new, worse, or worry you: thoughts about suicide or dying, attempts to commit suicide, new or worse depression, new or worse anxiety, feeling agitated or restless, panic attacks, trouble sleeping (insomnia), new or worse irritability, acting aggressive, being angry or violent, acting on dangerous impulses, an extreme increase in activity and talking (mania), or other unusual changes in behavior or mood. Do not stop taking TOPAMAX® without first talking to your doctor. Stopping TOPAMAX® suddenly can cause serious problems.

TOPAMAX® can harm your unborn baby. If you take TOPAMAX® during pregnancy, your baby has a higher risk for birth defects called cleft lip and cleft palate. These defects can begin early in pregnancy, even before you know you are pregnant. There may be other medicines to treat your condition that have a lower chance of birth defects. All women of childbearing age should talk to their healthcare providers about using other possible treatments instead of TOPAMAX®. If the decision is made to use TOPAMAX®, you should use effective birth control (contraception) unless you are planning to become pregnant. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant while taking TOPAMAX®. You and your healthcare provider should decide if you will continue to take TOPAMAX® while you are pregnant. Metabolic acidosis may have harmful effects on your baby. Talk to your healthcare provider if TOPAMAX® has caused metabolic acidosis during your pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking TOPAMAX®, talk to your healthcare provider about registering with the North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry. You can enroll in this registry by calling 1-888-233-2334. The purpose of this registry is to collect information about the safety of antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy.

TOPAMAX® may cause high blood ammonia levels. High ammonia in the blood can affect your mental activities, slow your alertness, make you feel tired, or cause vomiting. Call your Doctor if you develop unexplained tiredness, vomiting or changes in your mental status.

Taking TOPAMAX® when you are also taking valproic acid can cause a drop in body temperature (hypothermia) to less than 95ºF, feeling tired, confusion, or coma.

TOPAMAX® may affect how you think, and cause confusion, problems with concentration, attention, memory, or speech, depression or mood problems, tiredness, and sleepiness.

Topamax® may cause dizziness or loss of muscle coordination.

Do not drink alcohol while taking TOPAMAX®. Using TOPAMAX® and alcohol can affect each other causing side effects such as sleepiness and dizziness.

Do not drive a car or operate heavy machinery until you know how TOPAMAX® affects you. TOPAMAX® can slow your thinking and motor skills and may affect vision.

Adverse Reactions

The most common side effects of TOPAMAX® include: tingling in arms and legs, loss of appetite, nausea, taste change, diarrhea, weight loss, nervousness, upper respiratory tract infection, speech problems, tiredness, dizziness, sleepiness/drowsiness, slow reactions, difficulty with memory, pain in abdomen, fever, abnormal vision.

Tell your doctor about other medications that you are taking or any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

These are not all the possible side effects of TOPAMAX®. For more information, ask your healthcare professional or pharmacist.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please see full US Prescribing Information and Medication Guide

Attention TOPAMAX® Patients and Medical Professionals

Dispensing errors have been reported between TOPAMAX® (topiramate) tablets and TOPROL-XL® (metoprolol succinate) extended-release tablets. Please be sure to check your tablets to ensure you are taking the right medicine.

*TOPROL-XL is a registered trademark of the AstraZeneca group of companies.

March 4, 2011 - FDA Drug Safety Communication: TOPAMAX® (topiramate) use during pregnancy can cause fetal harm, including an increased risk for cleft lip and/or cleft palate. For information from the company click here. The FDA announcement can be found at www.fda.gov.