How you can get reduction from COVID-19 complications, together with dwelling cures

Cough, fever and shortness of breath used to be some of the most common signs (besides a positive test) that you were infected with COVID-19. But the latest variants have brought another growing symptom to the table: headaches.

“Earlier in the pandemic we often saw headaches in patients who had lost their sense of smell and taste, but with Omicron we now see headaches without a sense loss, and they often occur both during and after the infection phase.” says Thomas Gut, DO, Director of the Post-COVID Recovery Center at Staten Island University Hospital, part of Northwell Health in New York.

And research is beginning to emerge to support these anecdotal clinical findings. Headache, fatigue and cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose were the most commonly reported Omicron symptoms, says a recent study in The BMJ, while another in The Journal of Headache and Pain found headache to be one of the most common and persistent ” long covid” symptoms.

Medical experts are also noting that headaches appear as a Covid-19 symptom in both predisposed individuals (aka those who have previously suffered from headaches prior to infection) and those who have never had a headache before. “Many patients say they’re having a headache for the first time during Covid, which is unfortunate,” says Rafia Shafqat, MD, a neurologist with OhioHealth.

Here’s what you should know about Covid-19 headaches and how you can find some relief.

How do COVID-19 headaches feel?

If you’ve ever had a headache or deal with it frequently, this might sound familiar. But since there are different types of headaches — migraines, tension, and clusters being the biggest — chances are you’ve never experienced this exact type of headache before. “Most people report it as a tension-type headache with a band-like phenomenon, but it can also be a migraine-type headache associated with nausea or sensitivity to light and sound,” explains Rachel Colman, MD, board-certified neurologist and specialist in headache medicine at the Hartford Healthcare Ayer Neuroscience Institute in Connecticut.

dr Shafqat says a COVID-19 headache can also feel like this or be accompanied by:

  • Throbbing or throbbing pain
  • Sharp, lancinating pain in temples or occiput
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Sensory dysfunction such as numbness or tingling, trouble thinking, or ringing in the ears

What Causes COVID0-19 Headaches?

There could be a few things at play. For one, the body-wide inflammation you experience while infected with the virus could trigger a headache, as could the blood vessels in your brain, which could become inflamed, says Dr. colman Then there’s the potential neurological piece, since we know that COVID-19 can attack our neurological system, and headaches in general are a neurological condition. “The theory is that once the virus has made its way through the nose to the olfactory bulb (affecting our senses), it can attack nerves that contribute to headaches and affect blood vessels in the brain,” says Dr. colman “So direct invasion, there’s a theory for why people have COVID-related headaches.”

Other things that happen during an infection, such as Things like not staying hydrated, not eating enough, or not sleeping well can also contribute to or make headaches worse.

How long does a COVID-19 headache last?

It depends. Some people may have headaches until they test negative, while others may only have headaches for a few days of the active infection phase. How long headaches last during a “long COVID” is even more murky, with the symptom lasting for days, weeks, or months. “It’s a mixed bag. Some patients who have previously had migraines and tension-type headaches say they are more common right after COVID, and some people who have never had them routinely develop tension-like headache symptoms that last,” says Dr. Good. “Typically, the headache symptoms go away after a few months.”

What’s the best way to relieve COVID-19 headaches?

Spoiler alert: there is no magic fix. “It’s pretty much the same things you would do for a headache in any other scenario; Unfortunately, there’s nothing specific you can do to make yourself feel better,” says Dr. colman “Lifestyle factors are super important, and if you want a trick, I’d say chicken soup is always a good idea — it’s hydrating, contains nutrients and electrolytes, and is calming.”

Focus on these lifestyle habits to help with COVID-19 and “long COVID” headaches:

  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve pain during the acute phase of infection. “In the early days of COVID, the advice was not to take certain painkillers, but that’s old news, so take what helps your headache and/or your other symptoms,” says Dr. Shafqat.
  • drink enough When you don’t get enough fluids, tissues and your brain contract, putting pressure on nerves that can trigger headaches.
  • Don’t skip meals. Even if you don’t feel like eating, it’s important to prevent blood sugar fluctuations that can lead to headaches. Try easy-to-eat foods that you can pack nutrients into, like smoothies, soups or stews, oatmeal, eggs, and toast.
  • Concentrate on sleep. Once you have recovered from COVID, try your best to get back to your normal sleep-wake cycle. “I know it can be difficult to sleep when you have a headache, but try your best to get seven to eight hours,” says Dr. Shafqat. This can also help combat fatigue, another common symptom of long Covid.
  • Try to tame stress, which can be a headache trigger.
  • Once you feel better, do light physical activity like walking. “It can be difficult to contemplate going back to the type of exercise you used to do, but just start slow and build back up,” says Dr. colman
  • If you know that something about our environment is triggering or aggravating your headache — like certain lights, sounds, or smells — “getting away from that environment is a good first step in ending these headaches,” says Dr. Good.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations. “This is still one of the best things you can do to prevent ‘long COVID’ symptoms,” says Dr. Good. “The bivalent vaccine was good at that.”

When to see a doctor for COVID-19 headaches:

If you have “the most terrible headache of your life,” see a doctor right away, as it could potentially indicate something life-threatening like a brain hemorrhage, says Dr. Good. And always go to the emergency room if you experience a headache accompanied by a stiff neck, decreased consciousness, seizures, or severe sensitivity to light, says Dr. Colman, as these can be signs of COVID-related meningitis or encephalitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain, caused by an infection).

In general, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor anytime headaches interfere with your daily life or become so frequent that you regularly take over-the-counter pain relievers. or pinpoint underlying issues that might be contributing.

editor-in-chief

Alyssa is senior editor for the Hearst Health Newsroom, where she has been writing research-backed health content for prevention, good homemaking and women’s day since 2017. She has over 13 years of reporting and editing experience and previously worked as Research Director at Reader’s Digest, where she was responsible for the health section of the website as well as editing health content for the print magazine. She has also written for Chowhound, HealthiNation.com, Huffington Post, and others.

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