Headaches are a common symptom of COVID-19. Studies show that COVID-19 can cause up to 15% to 40% of cases of headaches. Most patients with COVID-19 report that their headaches improve within two weeks, but they may last a few weeks longer. A Post-COVID headache is a persistent headache that develops after having COVID-19. These headaches can last for weeks or even months after testing negative for the virus.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE
Many people with Post-COVID headaches experience them daily, or almost every day. Some also experience sensitivity to light, sound and touch. Post-COVID headaches often occur after doing too much activity. You may find that if you don’t take frequent breaks, you can develop a debilitating headache that takes hours to resolve. You may also notice that on particularly stressful days, you develop a headache more easily than normal.
Headaches are often a feature of viral infections, but for most people, a headache doesn’t always mean that the virus is still present in the body. The following are patient groups who are more at risk for developing Post-COVID, also known as Long COVID, headaches compared to other groups:
People who have experienced more severe COVID-19 illness, especially those who were hospitalized or required intensive care
People who did not get a COVID-19 vaccine
People who experienced multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) during or after COVID-19 illness
Frequent headaches and/or migraines.
Sensitivity to light, sound, smells and movement.
Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
The following tips may help you manage Post-COVID headaches:
Monitor for triggers and avoid triggering situations
Take medications such as Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Advil)
You have a headache that occurs two or more days a week.
You are using headache medications for more than two to three days per week.
You have a moderate to severe headache that persists despite preventive therapies or simple painkillers.
You experience significant disability associated with your headaches.
You are allergic to headache medications.
Some headaches require immediate medical attention. These include the following: