What to Know About a COVID-19 Headache

Up until April 2022, more than 508 million people have COVID-19, a viral illness. It is brought on by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. A wide family of viruses called coronaviruses is responsible for respiratory diseases.

One of the most prevalent signs of COVID-19 is headaches.

Migraines and tension headaches have been connected to COVID-19. Headaches are frequently one of the first symptoms to manifest.

Most of the time, headaches disappear after a few weeks, but some patients continue to have chronic headaches for several weeks or months after infection.

Learn more about COVID-19 headache symptoms and how to treat them by reading on.

Symptoms of a COVID-19 headache

According to numerous research, headaches are one of the most prevalent neurological signs of COVID-19. They usually represent the first symptom to manifest when it does.

However, there are no distinguishing features between headaches brought on by COVID-19 and other kinds of headaches.

It’s crucial to pay attention to if the headache is more severe than normal or whether it appears at an odd moment rather than as a result of typical stressors.

The majority of COVID-19 headache sufferers experience tension headaches, which typically have the following features: moderate to severe intensity, pain on both sides of the head, a pulsing or pressing sensation, pain in the forehead, sides of the head, or around the eyes, and poor response to over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

One in four patients with COVID-19 headaches also get migraine attacks. Even those without a history of migraines are susceptible to these headaches.

In a 2022 study, researchers discovered that of 288 COVID-19 patients, 22.2% experienced neurological symptoms. 69.1% of them started experiencing headaches.

Typically, headaches lasted seven days. In 18% of those who experienced headaches, they persisted for more than 30 days, and in 10% for more than 3 months.

In a different 2022 study, it was discovered that half of the 905 participants with COVID-19 headaches had headaches that lasted longer than two weeks.

How to treat headaches caused by COVID-19

Avoiding your recognized triggers may help lessen headache occurrence if you have a history of headaches. You might benefit from refraining from alcohol because it’s frequently a migraine trigger.

You could manage your symptoms with the use of some home remedies. These include resting, massaging your forehead and temples, using a cold compress on your forehead, and using over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), or acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Long-lasting headaches that don’t respond to other therapies may be helped by corticosteroids.

When to see a doctor

Most people with COVID-19 experience mild to moderate symptoms, which can be managed with rest and hydration.

COVID-19 has been associated, albeit infrequently, with thunderclap headaches. These headaches have a quick onset and can be extremely painful.

What researchers know about the connection between headaches and COVID-19

One of the most prevalent signs of COVID-19 is headaches. According to a review of research, 12.9% of the 6,635 COVID-19 patients experienced headaches or vertigo.

According to another study, 7.559 out of every 100 COVID-19 carriers reported having headaches.

COVID-19 headaches appear to be more common in women and younger persons.

Although the precise source of COVID-19-related headaches is unknown, both indirect and direct factors may be to blame.

The possibility that the virus could enter your brain tissue through your olfactory system or by breaking past the blood-brain barrier and inducing inflammation has been raised. It’s possible that your hypothalamus or trigeminal nerve isn’t functioning properly, which may also be a factor.

Those who have COVID-19 may experience cytokine storms (overproduction of pro-inflammatory molecules by the immune system). The neuroinflammation that causes headaches may result from this reaction.

The onset of headaches may also be influenced by other elements such as low brain oxygen levels, dehydration, or irregular eating habits.

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