Covid Headache – DoctorOnHealth

Covid Headache

Covid headache is the most common symptom with many other symptoms of covid 19. Even in Omicron, headache is the common. When headache appeared in covid 19, that commonly termed as covid headache. At different stages of covid 19 infection it occurs. As data shows, covid headache is more commonly occurs both early and late in the infection phase. Even after covid 19 vaccination, one may face covid headache.

Covid headache is typically common after taking different covid 19 vaccines Covishield, Covaxin, AstraZeneca vaccine, Pfizer BionTech Covid vaccine, Sputnik V, etc.

Covid-headache-image-for young adult

Covid headache occurring later can possibly be an indication of worsening illness.

Headache can be a symptom of covid 19 in people who have a migraine. In this case, a headache occurs before the typical covid 19 symptoms occurs, such as fever, cough, etc.

Statistics and Pattern of covid headache :

Research shows that around 11 percent to 34 percent of hospitalized people with covid 19 suffered covid headache.

WHO report indicates that after taking the data of 55000 confirmed cases of covid 19, it is found that 13.6 percent of these cases reported headache.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study indicates that 9.6 percent to 21.3 percent of covid 19 hospitalized patients reported headache. Also, covid headache appeared more commonly in people who are under 65 years old.

Various research reports suggest that headache is a prominent symptom of covid 19 like other symptoms. Especially when fully vaccinated people, covid headache is the only symptom. Vaccinated people are getting mild covid symptoms, but the intensity of the covid headache is that of same.

The study, published in the European Journal of Neurology, found that among 379 covid -19 patients,13 percent developed a headache. Of these, 62 percent were men, and the average age was 57, as per reports. This research also found that younger people and people with fewer comorbidities are more prone to develop a covid headache during covid 19 infection.

Covid headache potential risk :

With research in Madrid (Spain), the Hospital Universitario de La Princes researchers found that patients with covid 19 who developed covid headache as an early symptom of infection had a milder illness and less risk of death.

Causes of covid headache :

There are many possible causes that lead to covid headache. The influence of the inflammatory response during SARS-CoV-2  infection and respiratory failure could be related to the development of covid headache. Also, the release of chemokines is associated with pain. It may be a possible factor influencing headache course and pattern during covid 19.

Research shows that hospitalized younger covid 19 patients with no comorbidities, including hypertension, are more likely to develop a headache during infection. So it suggests that patients who are healthier and have a healthy immune system may manifest covid headache so that a healthy immune system may have a role in the development of covid headache during covid 19 infection.

How to know if your headache is due to covid 19 or something else?

Headache is a common problem in the general population. There are various reasons that cause headache. Coronavirus infection is one of the reasons for headache. So how do you know if your headache is due to covid 19 or due to something else?

Not enough data available to determine the exact characteristic of covid 19 headache, so it is difficult to differentiate covid 19 headache from other types of headache.

Characteristics that point covid headache-

Though various reports indicate covid 19 headache have the following characteristics

  1. Covid headache is moderate to severe in intensity
  2. Covid headache causes a pulsing or pressing sensation
  3. Covid headache occurs on both sides of the head ( so it is bilateral)
  4. Covid headache may get worse when bending over.

In an early phase of the covid disease, headache is associated with a lower chance of death, low C-reactive protein levels, and mild acute respiratory distress syndrome. Infection, Sore throat, nausea, vomiting, loss of taste, joint pain are more common in patients with covid 19 who develop a covid headache.

Covid 19 headache may also have some unusual features such as new unrelenting pain, rapid onset, higher intensity and association with loss of sense of smell (anosmia), loss of sense of taste (ageusia), diarrhea, reduced appetite, weight loss.

Research suggests that temporary recovery from covid headache lasted hours following the use of analgesics, mainly paracetamol or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Rapid weight loss and covid headache-

Study suggests that rapid weight loss with reduced appetite is a potential distinctive feature of covid 19 headache. Also, headache may be an isolated feature of covid 19 illness, so patients with covid 19 may present with only one symptom: a headache.

Though mostly when only headache presents alone in covid 19 illness, it is the early sign of the disease. With time other symptoms of covid infection appear.

Covid headache complications :

Headache in covid can spread throughout the skull, giving a feeling of constriction and weight at the top of head. If the covid infection affects people who are already suffering from migraine, it multiplies the crises.

Long Covid symptoms present even for months after the patient recovered from covid 19 and was discharged from the hospital. Persistent headache, easy muscle fatigue, the feeling of a foggy head, etc., can be long covid symptoms.

Headache in “long covid 19” must always be considered a chronic sequela of the infection. Sleep difficulty associated with long covid symptoms may also be related to headache in post-recovery patients.

How covid 19 headache differs from migraine?

Covid 19 headache is moderate to severe in intensity, which also occurs in migraine attacks. But in migraine attacks, there are other associated symptoms such as sensitivity to light and sound. The headache of covid 19 does not show these associated symptoms.

In coronavirus infection, there is fever, so Covid 19 headache may occur with fever. In migraines and other types of headache (tension headache, cluster headache, etc.), fever is not common.

If you have a headache and have a fever or other symptoms of covid 19, get tested for covid 19.

Covid headache and Omicron :

For the omicron the headache is very similar to covid headache. Just that headache in omicron is bit mild. If you are already vaccinated, then you are apparently safe. But still we recommend to follow some precaution measures to avoid any complication. We highly recommend to follow all the covid protocols in a rigid manner.

If you are one, who is still waiting to get the vaccine, then there is a bad news for you. Because omicron may turn severe at any point of time for non vaccinated people.

Symptoms that are the warning signs of covid 19 :

Headache is a most common symptom of covid 19. But there are other symptoms too like chest cold, fatigue, etc.

Other common symptoms of covid 19 are- Fever, Cough, Shortness of breath, Fatigue, Loss of taste or smell, Sore throat, Runny or stuffy nose, Body aches and pains, Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea, etc.

What should you do if you have other symptoms of covid 19?

If you have a headache or any other symptoms of covid 19 

  1. Isolate: Isolate yourself from others. Stay at home and distance yourself from others in your house. It is better to use a separate bedroom and bathroom. Wear a face covering when you are around others and always maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet from others in your home.
  2. Seek medical care: Do not delay consulting with a doctor. Tell your doctor all the symptoms you are experiencing, also let him know if you came in contact with any covid positive patient. The doctor may recommend you to get tested for covid 19. Follow all the instructions of your doctor. Your doctor will advise you on how to care for yourself. Do not panic.
  3. Monitor your symptoms: If you feel that your symptoms worsen, seek medical help immediately.

Treatment of covid headache :

The only treatment is the covid 19 vaccines that will make you safe from any seriousness. If you have a headache due to covid 19 or due to other underlying causes, you may get relief by using

  1. Over-the-counter medication: Over-the-counter medication like acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help you to get relief from covid 19.
  2. Application of cool compress: A cool compress on your forehead may give you relief from headache. It may also help you to stay cool if you have a fever.
  3. Get rest: Lying down for a bit and closing your eyes may help you get relief from a headache, especially if it is severe.
  4. Gentle massage: Gentle massage around your forehead may give you some relief from headache.

When to seek immediate medical help?

Many cases of covid 19 infections are mild, sometimes asymptomatic also. In some people, this disease may turn into a more severe form. This severe form typically is seen 5 to 8 days after the first symptoms appear. Seek immediate medical help if you experience any of the following

  1. Difficulty breathing
  2. Pressure or pain in the chest
  3. Confusion
  4. Trouble staying awake or difficulty waking
  5. lips, nail or face becomes blue

Headache after covid vaccination:

Headache may also occur as a possible side effect after covid 19 vaccination. Covid 19 vaccine helps us to protect ourselves from getting covid 19. So some side effects are normal when our body is building protection. These side effects go away within a few days.

Sources :

  1. Garg S, et al. (2020). Hospitalization rates and characteristics of patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 — COVID-NET, 14 states, March 1–30, 2020.
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