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How Headache Affects Families

The National Headache Foundation has announced the results of their online survey to better understand how headaches affect a sufferer’s family and what role heredity plays in headache. Findings include:

  • 66% of sufferers have a family history of headache; in 63% of the cases it is the mother that has headache
  • 53% of respondents said that their families do not understand their headache condition
  • 63% of sufferers said that when they have a headache they are unable to attend to household chores such as cleaning, grocery shopping and cooking
  • 79% of family members have to cooking meals and 61% having to handle household cleaning during these periods
  • 63% of spouses or significant others take on extra household and child-rearing responsibilities during a sufferer’s headache
  • 68% of people with headache feel that their spouse or significant other support them when they have a headache
  • 83% of respondents feel guilty about not being able to spend time with their families
  • 66% state that they believe their families feel neglected when they have their headache attacks
  • 50% of headache sufferers feel that their spouse or significant other does not understand their headache issues and needs

From these findings and talking with other people with headache, it is clear that chronic pain can strain even the happiest of relationships. Learning to live with chronic pain can be frustrating, exhausting, exasperating and heartbreaking, for patients as well as their relational partners and families.

Coincidentally, I posted a review of Chronic Pain and the Family on Blogcritics yesterday. The book explores the issues facing couples (as well as children and extended family) who have to deal with one person’s illness. The author offers suggestions for each person in the couple to repair the relationship and shares many additional sources to help couples and families. She also explains the debility associated with chronic pain and the havoc it wreaks on people in pain.

An excerpt from the book is available from the publisher, Harvard University Press.