Spending excessive time in front of a screen can trigger headaches and migraine. This can cause symptoms, such as throbbing pain and nausea, which may interfere with a person’s professional and personal life.

Many people may spend hours in front of their computers attending meetings, checking their inboxes, or browsing the internet. This may lead to an increase in headaches and migraine, which both consist of a throbbing, constant, sharp, or dull pain in the head that can make it difficult to carry on with daily tasks.

A migraine causes more severe pain than a headache and occurs on only one side of the head. Migraine is extremely debilitating, and many people who experience it find they usually have to lie down in a dark and quiet room until it passes.

This article will explore the connection between screen time and headaches and migraine, including the symptoms, causes, and treatment. It will also detail how a person can prevent them and when they should speak with a doctor.

screen shopShare on Pinterest
Fairfax Media/Getty Images

Spending many hours working in front of a screen, playing video games, using a smartphone, or watching the television can cause digital eyestrain. Some of the symptoms of digital eyestrain include headache disorders.

This may occur due to the eye fatigue that people may develop after staring at screens without adequate illumination of the surrounding environment. It may also occur if a person does not maintain an appropriate distance from the screen.

Having posture issues while working may also cause muscular tension in the neck and shoulders. A buildup of muscular tension in the upper back may trigger headaches and migraine.

Learn more about migraine and headaches.

What are screen headaches and migraine?

Screen headaches and migraine are health conditions that may result from spending excessive time in front of a screen. Working or spending many hours in front of a screen, such as a television or a laptop, can cause eyestrain, which may trigger a headache or a migraine.

The symptoms of screen headaches and migraine are usually similar to those of a regular headache or migraine attack. The symptoms of migraine may include:

The symptoms of headaches may include:

People may consider contacting a doctor if they experience screen headaches or migraine regularly. Migraine and headaches can be debilitating and negatively affect someone’s quality of life and mental health.

A doctor can recommend to people who spend many hours in front of screens how they can reduce the risk of developing screen headaches.

A person needs to urgently speak with a doctor if they experience a screen headache or migraine that lasts for longer than 72 hours or if they experience any of the following symptoms:

  • weakness or inability to move the leg, arm, or face muscles on one side of the body
  • a sudden, extremely severe headache
  • having problems speaking or remembering things
  • drowsiness or confusion
  • seizures
  • high temperature

There are some measures people can take that may help prevent screen headaches and migraine episodes. This may include:

  • taking frequent breaks, possibly looking away from the screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes
  • having appropriate background lighting
  • keeping an appropriate distance from the screen
  • preventing reflections and glare on the screen
  • wearing glasses with a blue light filter
  • avoiding screen exposure when unnecessary

Learn expert tips on preventing migraine.

The treatment for screen headaches and migraine focuses on improving the pain and symptoms people may experience when these occur and preventing them from happening. These may include:

When a screen headache or migraine occurs, it may help to lie down in a quiet and dark environment and rest. Applying a cold pad or a wet, cold towel on the head may also improve headaches.

Drinking plenty of fluids can also help recover from headaches and improve their symptoms.

Doctors do not currently know the exact cause of migraine and headaches, and there is no cure for them. However, digital screens can cause eyestrain, which may trigger headaches.

Avoiding prolonged exposure to screens when possible and taking some precautions to reduce digital eyestrain can help reduce the frequency of screen headaches and migraine. Doctors can also recommend how to manage headaches and migraine when they occur.

Each person may experience screen headaches for different reasons. Understanding what situations trigger their screen headaches and migraine and preventing them can significantly improve people’s life quality.

Screen headaches and migraine typically occur after a person spends a significant amount of time looking at a screen. This may happen to people who work using a computer for many hours every day, but also to those using their smartphones or tablets or watching the television.

Glasses with blue light filters, appropriate background lighting, and moving the focus of the eyes away from the screen around every 20 minutes may help prevent screen headaches and migraine.

Doctors may also prescribe some medications to help people deal with pain when they experience a headache or a migraine.