Headaches and COVID-19

Headaches and COVID-19

Dr. Huma Sheikh is a board-certified Harvard trained Neurologist and Headache Specialist practicing in New York City. In the United States, many children and adults suffer from chronic headaches. Some studies show an estimate close to 10% or more of the total population. As headaches affect patients' personal and social lives, they can be a disabling condition. Doctors have noticed a higher incidence of headache among patients infected with COVID-19.

Featuring Physician: Huma Sheikh, MD

In the interview with myDoqter staff, Dr. Sheikh discusses the connection between persistent headaches with COVID-19 infection.

Neurological Symptoms of Coronavirus Infection

   Dr. Sheikh explains that now, as the pandemic continues, we see how the coronavirus can present. First reports stated that it could cause a loss of smell and taste. Other possible neurological symptoms can include headaches, strokes, dizziness, decreased alertness, weakness, muscle pain, and difficulty concentrating.

Headaches and Coronavirus Infection

   Dr. Sheikh also says that new reports show that we may expect headaches with COVID-19. One study of 100 patients indicated that headaches, being one of the first signs, start even before any other symptoms and continue after all other symptoms are gone. Further reports reveal that it can appear in about 14% of patients.

   Migraine is a neurological disease that can be triggered by any stress of the body, and it worsens if they have a viral illness. Also, all the recent world affairs can be a cause for worsening headaches. Many previously stable people are experiencing such worsening headaches. One reason may be that they have not received their usual medications, given that many offices were closed for some time. Stress is a major cause as well that can make migraines more frequent or severe.


Viruses and Headaches

   When viral or bacterial particles are able to travel into the brain and cause inflammation in the brain's blood vessels, it can lead to headaches. They can also travel through the nose and reach the nerve endings present there. Sudden severe headaches can be a sign of a more dangerous brain infection, sometimes known as meningitis. In some reports, COVID can lead to stroke, and for those who suffer from a stroke, it can present with headache.

   Dr. Sheikh clarifies that no studies show that a history of migraine will make someone more prone to become infected with COVID or develop more severe symptoms if infected.


Treatment of Headaches

   Currently, there are no specific treatments for headaches as symptoms of COVID. Treatment is similar to those headaches resulting from a viral infection, which includes anti-inflammatory medications.

   As for migraines, there is an array of treatments available. If migraine worsens, it is essential to identify what triggers it, such as stress, sleep, and exercise. Different methods help in this matter, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, yoga, and mindfulness.


The American Headache Society and the American Migraine Foundation can assist those in need to find a physician to help them cope with migraines and headaches.


   To read the full interview, click here.

   To reach out directly to Dr. Huma Sheikh, click here.

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