The most important takeaways

  • A headache that is caused by COVID-19 may feel similar to the tension headache or migraine.
  • Certain patients may also experience chronic everyday headaches following the recovery of an acute infection with COVID-19.
  • Certain medications and lifestyle changes can help treat the symptoms of COVID headache to a certain extent.

Headaches are among the most frequent manifestations of COVID-19. However, are they distinct from other kinds of headaches?

COVID headaches can manifest differently in individuals, as per Igor Koralnik, MD, director of neuroinfectious diseases and general neuroscience in Northwestern Medicine. Headaches may be similar to a continuous tension headache, or a throbbing pain similar to a migraine.

Around 70% of patients who attend the Neuro COVID-19 Clinic located at Northwestern Memorial Hospital experience headaches caused by coronavirus Koralnik said.

According to a study in 2020 that found patients who have an existing primary headache suffer COVID headaches more often than patients without. Patients who are dehydrated also experienced higher frequency of COVID related headaches. The movement of the head or cough can make the headache too.

Erin McConnell, MD, an internal medicine physician in the post-COVID recovery clinic located at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center she said to Verywell that certain patients suffer more severe or new migraines following an acute COVID-19 infection.

“This is likely to be multifactorial since many patients suffering from COVID that are long-lasting are suffering from fatigue and poor sleep and both of these can cause migraine headaches,” she said.

What causes COVID headaches?

The survivors of the 1890 flu pandemic were afflicted with post-infection symptoms for up to a few years after the outbreak ended. One of the most well-known issues was a chronic daytime headache. Researchers have suggested that the numerous similarities between the pandemic of 1890 and the current one suggest that headaches similar to this one is a possible complication of COVID-19.

“It is fair to suggest that the new-onset headache could be connected to the virus that causes it, given that COVID is known to be associated with flu-like symptoms” McConnell said.

A lot of people experience headaches as a result of an illness that fades as they recover. In some instances the headache can last for a long time beyond the time of the infection.

“The headaches with COVID can be as long as acute disease or even months to weeks, particularly for those who suffer from them as a result of their lengthy COVID manifesto,” McConnell said.

Koralnik who was recently the leader of an investigation on COVID symptoms that lasted for a long time, symptoms, stated that headaches caused by viral illness generally do not last for as long as they do in chronic COVID patients.

There’s not a conclusive evidence available yet, but it’s likely that post-COVID headaches are due to systemic inflammation during the acute phase COVID-19, or is related to continuous inflammation of the immune system.

The immune system may be “confused due to the viral infection and thought that the normal components of the brain have to be targeted,” Koralnik said. Inflammation and changes to micro blood flow in the brain may cause post-COVID headaches.

How is COVID Headache treated?

Treatment options for chronic COVID headaches are similar to the way doctors deal with other headaches, McConnell said, that includes adequate rest, adequate drinking, regular meals, and reducing stress to at a minimal.

Utilizing painkillers that are available over the counter too often can cause medication-related headaches It’s advisable to consult a healthcare doctor about possible treatments.

“If they’re severe or frequently enough, we could take preventative measures such as beta-blockersand anti-epileptics or tricyclic antidepressants These are medications that we typically use to avoid the recurring headaches,” McConnell said.

As with all neurological disorders, the diagnosis of the cause of headaches must be determined by an exhaustive medical history as well as a the neurological exam, Koralnik stated. Sometimes, headaches do not respond to prescription medications or NSAIDs.

If no other cause is discovered, low doses nortriptyline, an antidepressant that is taken before bedtime, are prescribed to treat and prevent headaches He added.

Presently it is necessary to conduct more research to determine how best to effectively treat symptoms of post-COVID. The experts recommend that you get vaccines and boosts against COVID-19 to reduce the risk of suffering severe complications of the disease.

The information contained in this article is up-to-date in the year listed this article, meaning that more recent information could be available at the time you go through this. For the latest information on COVID-19, check out the coronavirus page.