What does a COVID-19 headache look like? Symptoms and more | SehndeWeb

COVID-19 is a viral infection that over 508 million people have developed through April 2022. It is caused by a type of coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections.

Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19. The data published by the COVID Symptom Study in December 2021 revealed that headaches were one of the five most reported symptoms of the Omicron variant, along with:

  • runny nose
  • fatigue
  • sneeze
  • sore throat

COVID-19 has been linked to tension headaches and migraine. When headaches appear, they often appear as one of the first symptoms.

In most cases, headaches go away within a few weeks, but some people experience prolonged headaches for weeks or months after infection.

Keep reading to learn more about the symptoms of COVID-19 headaches and what you can do about them.

Many studies confirmed that headaches are one of the most common neurological symptoms of COVID-19. When they appear, they are usually the first symptom.

However, there are no specific characteristics of headaches caused by COVID-19 that are different from other types of headaches.

It’s important to pay attention to whether the headache is more severe than you’re used to or if it comes at an unusual time and not because of typical stressors.

Most people who suffer from headaches related to COVID-19 develop tension headaches with the following characteristics:

  • moderate or severe intensity
  • pain on both sides of the head
  • feeling of pulsation or pressure
  • pain around the forehead, sides of the head, or around the eyes
  • poor responses to over-the-counter (OTC) medications

About a quarter of people who suffer from headaches related to COVID-19 also have migraine episodes. These headaches can occur in people with no history of migraine.

Migraine can cause:

  • pain, usually on one side of the head
  • throbbing or throbbing pain
  • sensitivity to light, sound, smell, or touch
  • nausea and vomiting

People with COVID-19 who develop headaches also tend to develop:

  • fever
  • sore throat
  • loss of taste
  • loss of smell
  • muscle aches

In a study 2022, researchers found that among 288 people with COVID-19, 22.2% developed neurological symptoms. Of these people, 69.1% developed headaches.

The headaches usually lasted 7 days. They persisted for more than 30 days in 18% of people who developed headaches and more than 3 months in 10%.

In other study 2022researchers found that in a group of 905 people who developed headaches related to COVID-19, half suffered from headaches for more than 2 weeks.

If you have a history of headaches, avoiding your known triggers can help reduce the onset of headaches. Alcohol is a common migraine trigger, so it may be beneficial to avoid it.

A number of home remedies can help manage your symptoms. These include:

Corticosteroids may help treat prolonged headaches that do not respond to other treatments.

In most people, COVID-19 causes mild to moderate symptoms that can be treated with rest and fluids.

In rare cases, COVID-19 has been linked to thunderclap headaches. These headaches can cause severe pain that appears within seconds.

Medical emergency

Thunderclap headaches can be a sign of bleeding in the brain that needs prompt medical attention. It is essential to seek immediate medical attention if you experience a severe headache that comes on quickly.

You should also seek emergency medical attention if you have any of the emergency symptoms of COVID-19:

  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain or pressure
  • confusion
  • blue or gray lips, face or fingernails
  • difficulty staying away or waking up

To note: Dark-skinned people may not be able to notice discoloration that indicates oxygen deprivation as easily as lighter-skinned people.

If you have long-term symptoms of COVID-19, it is important to see your doctor for an evaluation and to develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19. A study review found that among 6,635 people with COVID-19, 12.9% developed headache or dizziness.

Another review found that 10.9% of people with COVID-19 in a group of 7,559 reported headaches.

Women and young people seem to be the most likely to develop headaches related to COVID-19.

It’s unclear exactly why COVID-19 causes headaches, but both indirect and direct factors can contribute.

It has been suggested that the virus could invade your brain tissue, possibly through your olfactory system or by crossing the blood-brain barrier and promoting inflammation. It’s possible that dysfunction in your hypothalamus or trigeminal nerve is also contributing.

Some people with COVID-19 may develop cytokine storm (overproduction of pro-inflammatory molecules by the immune system). This reaction can lead to neuroinflammation which causes headaches.

Other factors such as low oxygen levels in the brain, dehydration, or not eating normally can also contribute to the development of headaches.

Headaches are a common side effect of COVID-19 vaccines. They are marked with about half of people who receive vaccines and usually appear within 72 hours. Headaches can occur alone or accompanied by other symptoms such as:

  • articular pain
  • muscle aches
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • diarrhea

Headaches usually go away within a few days.

Medical emergency

Headaches that appear later may be a sign of a serious complication called cerebral vein thrombosis. The National Health Service recommends seeking emergency medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms between 4 days and 4 weeks after your shot:

  • severe headache not relieved by painkillers, or pain that gets worse
  • headache that gets worse when you lie down or bend over
  • headache with blurred vision, nausea, slurred speech, weakness, drowsiness, or seizures
  • rash that looks like a small bruise or bleeding under the skin
  • shortness of breath, chest pain, abdominal pain, or swelling in the legs

Headaches are one of the most reported symptoms of COVID-19. Tension headaches are the most common, but around a quarter of people who report headaches experience migraine episodes. Migraine sometimes develops in people with no history.

COVID-19 can usually be managed with rest, but it’s important to see a doctor if you develop emergency symptoms like shortness of breath or chest pain. It’s also important to see your doctor if you develop long-term symptoms for proper evaluation.

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