How to prepare for life as an adult with migraine

How you live might affect your migraine

While the length of your migraine attacks and how regularly you get them can change over time, you might not experience much of a change in them when you initially become an adult.

However, the way we live often changes as we enter adulthood. As that can have a significant impact on migraine, it is good to be aware and prepare for it.

Lifestyle changes associated with becoming an adult can affect migraine and trigger more migraine attacks.

As you will be legally able to drink alcohol once you turn 18, it is important to be aware that it is a common trigger for migraine attacks.

Similarly, missing sleep and even changes to sleeping patters can affect migraine.

Stress is a common migraine trigger too, and many students with migraine find that exam stress can trigger migraine attacks, so it is important to consider this if you are studying at university or college once you leave school.

A change of lifestyle generally can also lead some people to experience migraine attacks.

Live your best life

However, you can still have a great time and do many things as you become an adult!

It just helps if you are aware and understand why your migraine might change and what you can do to manage it.

If you identify that you have a new migraine trigger related to becoming an adult, you can then work out how to manage that trigger.

You can still study, start a new job, meet new people, travel, go to parties, and fall in love. You just might need to make a few small changes to your lifestyle as you do.

Getting help as an adult

It’s also important to consider how you will get help for your migraine if you need it as an adult.

Getting medical help

  • Your doctor might change, either because you are moving to a new location or because you move from a doctor that specialises in helping children to one that helps adults too.
  • There might be other medical professionals that you are able to seek help from as your life changes such as a university nurse or an occupational health professional at work.
  • If this happens, it is important that they understand your migraine and the history of your treatment. This might happen automatically if you are referred to them by your previous doctor but you might also need to update them yourself.

Getting help from your university or college

  • If your migraine is affecting your ability to attend lectures or study, it is important that you speak to your college or university to see if they can support you in your learning or make adjustments to how you are assessed such as extra time to undertake coursework.
  • We have a toolkit with information on how to manage migraine in higher and further education, which you can download below.

Getting help from your employer

  • Depending on your migraine and its triggers, there might be some things that your employer can do to help avoid certain triggers. These are known as ‘reasonable adjustments’ and are often small changes but which can have a significant impact on your ability to do your job. The adjustments that a person needs vary depending on the nature of the job and the workplace, but common adjustments include working near a window to reduce exposure to artificial light or being allowed to have a water bottle where you work so that you can stay hydrated (you can read more about how to manage migraine at work here).
  • Your employer can also help you tell other people in your work about migraine if you think they don’t understand it properly.

Getting help from a new network of people

  • Becoming an adult might mean moving away from your friends and family, and those that have helped you with your migraine before you turned 18.
  • As migraine is common, there are likely to be people in your new network who have experienced migraine or who know someone close to them who has.
  • Although painful, migraine is invisible, so you might have to explain what it is, what your migraine is like, and how it affects you. The more they know, the more they can help you.
  • Here is how you could explain it to them.