Migraines are a debilitating condition that causes sufferers to miss many work days. Careers suffer and lives come to a halt due to throbbing headaches and other unpleasant symptoms. According to the Migraine trust, nearly 15% or the world’s population suffer from migraines. Migraines cost industry £2.25 billion pounds in sick days while the NHS foots the £150 million treatment bill.
Migraine forecasting helps people to recognise triggers and alter their lifestyle accordingly to prevent an attack. Some people respond well to medication while others do not interfere with their work day. Taking time out from a nine to five job to nurse a migraine is almost manageable but is the case when you are far from home on a military posting?
People wanting to have a career in the military go through a number of health checks before enlistment. Fighting in a war zone is stressful, hot, bright and noisy all of which are migraine triggers. Symptoms of a migraine such as blurred vision or cognitive dysfunction render the sufferer unable to function. But does this mean that your military career is over before it begins?
Military Health Checks
There are three sections to the military; Army, Navy and Air Force have a different selection process depending on the position applied for. The Air Force is unable to advise on particular medical conditions until the applicant undergoes a complete health check. Migraines may have an effect on your chances of joining the RAF depending on the role you are applying for. (Source: RAF Live Chat).
The Navy is more specific with the types of medical conditions that may affect your application to join. They list a number of health conditions that render you permanently unsuitable to join. Recurring headaches (including migraines) is considered to be a neurological condition that will preclude you from joining the Navy. (Source: Her Majesty’s Naval Service
Eligibility and Guidance Notes).
The Army has a comprehensive list of health conditions that will prevent you from joining up. Migraines are not specifically listed but conditions requiring ongoing medication are. This does not necessarily mean that you are able to join if you suffer from migraines. (Source: apply.army.mod.uk)
The answer to whether migraines affect your chances of joining the military in the UK is inconclusive. However, the application process looks at each application on its own merits so you may be able to join up just not in the role you wished for.
Why Migraines Are An Issue
The military requires healthy strong members who are physically and mentally able to deal with adverse situations. All health conditions risk lives because regiments rely on teamwork to keep each other safe. If you have a debilitating health condition like migraines you may not be able to be the strong team member you wish to be.
There are many roles in the military not involving the front line which may be more suitable. You will still belong to the military but your migraines may be less of an issue. The only way you will find out if your migraines disqualify you from the military is by applying and seeing what happens.
By Birpal Virdee (May 2018)