A large sample of Canadian adults was surveyed by telephone to determine the prevalence and characterization of headache, and the effects of headache on life-style, consulting behaviours and medication use. We reported prevalence and characterization in a previous issue; here, we detail the effects of headaches on sufferers. Sixteen and one-half percent of adult Canadians experience migraine and 29% tension-type headaches. In over 70% of headache sufferers interpersonal relationships are impaired. Regular activities are limited in 78% of migraine attacks and 38% of tension-type headaches. Despite this, only 64% of migraine and 45% of tension-type headache sufferers had ever sought medical attention, and of these only 32% returned for ongoing care. Fourteen percent of migraine and 8% of tension-type headache sufferers had used emergency departments. Most headache sufferers take medication, primarily over-the-counter varieties. Measures to reach the headache population are needed, as are safe effective treatment options that will encourage them to participate in their medical care.
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