Since the Coronavirus outbreak, many have experienced a variety of symptoms. Common symptoms include fatigue, difficulty breathing, sore throat, as well as migraines and headaches. According to a report from the World Health Organization, around 14% of people with Covid-19 will experience headaches or migraines as a symptom.
Why do Covid-19 patients experience migraine-like headaches?
The link between headaches and Covid-19 is still being researched. Many believe that the trigeminal nerve is involved and can cause painful headaches when dealing with the virus.
The trigeminal nerve is a large cranial nerve that is responsible for movement and feeling parts of your head and face. When the trigeminal nerve pathways are activated, it can be associated with migraines and other types of headaches.
SARS-CoV-2 has the ability to trigger headaches through the trigeminal nerves in a number of ways:
- Direct viral infection of nerve endings that can be found in the nasal passages
- Invasion of vascular tissues, which leads to changes that could stimulate trigeminal nerve endings
- Release of inflammatory molecules, leading to an inflammatory storm that’s secondary to an infection
Migraines and Covid-19
A migraine is a severe type of headache that includes throbbing sensations or a pulsing pain that can also trigger a sensitivity to sounds and lights. In many cases, patients may also experience nausea and vomiting due to a migraine. Headaches
There are two types of Covid-19 headaches:
- A primary headache, being a migraine attack that is caused by changes in nerve signaling
- Covid-19 headache (secondary headache) that is caused by underlying diseases or conditions
Covid-19 migraines may not appear with common migraine symptoms such as nausea but will feel different to each individual. For some, they may feel pain on both sides of the head as opposed to only one side. Migraines induced by Covid-19 may also be unresponsive to medication that is typically used to relieve symptoms.
Migraines related to stress
It is undoubtedly a difficult time for everyone. This pandemic can surely bring on stress for many; you may not suffer from Coronavirus yourself, but you may be worried about the health and safety of your loved ones.
Severe stress is also known to lead to migraines for many people. While it’s not directly caused by an infection in your own body, Covid-19, as a pandemic in general, can cause stress-induced migraines.
In these cases, it’s important that you try to eliminate stressors. If you find that the news or social media is causing major stress in your life, try to limit the amount of time you spend consuming online media. Focus on the positives in your life and indulge in meditation and breathing exercises that can help with stress and anxiety.
For many, simple exercises may not be enough. Those suffering from stress and migraines may need to seek professional help. In times like this, Psychotherapy is effective when focusing on bettering your mental health.
Treating Coronavirus-induced migraines
If you suffer from underlying health conditions, it is highly recommended that you continue taking your prescribed medication, including those for migraines. These may include:
- Pain relievers such as ibuprofen, paracetamol or aspirin
- Anti-nausea medication to relieve symptoms of nausea such as chlorpromazine, prochlorperazine or metoclopramide
Preventative migraine medication aimed at reducing how often you may get a migraine can also help, such as:
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Anti-seizure drugs such as valproate and topiramate
Medications that lower blood pressure including beta-blockers like propranolol and metoprolol tartrate