There may be some overlap between the signs of migraine and COVID-19 symptoms.
In some cases, a person with a SARS-CoV-2 infection may experience headaches similar to migraine headaches. Managing migraine should not interfere with other treatment or prevention measures for COVID-19.
Although severe complications are possible with COVID-19, having migraine should not increase the likelihood of complications from the infection.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note, common distinguishable symptoms for COVID-19 can appear 2–14 days after exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and include fever, a dry cough, and shortness of breath.
Many others also experience fatigue, along with symptoms similar to those of other respiratory conditions, such as:
The World Health Organization (WHO) released a report on COVID-19 cases in which they noted the symptoms that people experience. According to the report, close to 14% of people with COVID-19 experience headaches.
Headache is a broad term that may include migraine headaches. Therefore, it is possible that migraine could be a symptom of COVID-19.
However, other symptoms are more common, and a person with COVID-19 will likely experience several different symptoms.
A person should always look for other signs of infection and contact a doctor if they experience other symptoms.
Anyone experiencing the following emergency warning signs should seek immediate medical assistance:
- continuous pain or pressure in the chest
- difficulty breathing
- being difficult to rouse
- concerning changes in skin tone, such as the lips or face having a bluish hue
People with COVID-19 who experience migraine will still need treatment.
Those who experience migraine but are otherwise stable will need to practice physical distancing, but they should still have access to any treatments they need.
If people have a history of migraine treatment, it may be simpler for them to access treatment through a phone call or virtual visit to the doctor or pharmacy to refill any medications that they need.
People experiencing new headaches, including migraine headaches, should take steps toward treatment, such as trying over-the-counter pain relievers. Drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep may help reduce symptoms.
Prevention is also important. People who regularly have migraine headaches or episodes should take care to avoid any known triggers, which vary among individuals but may include specific foods.
Stress can also trigger migraine for many people. COVID-19 itself can be a source of stress, as can worrying about the infection or constantly hearing about it. The CDC recommend taking measures to reduce stress and anxiety during these times, such as:
- taking breaks from news stories and social media feeds about COVID-19
- doing breathing exercises or meditation practices
- avoiding alcohol and drugs
- exercising regularly
- getting plenty of sleep
- contacting friends or family members to discuss feelings
Taking care of physical and mental health and finding ways to reduce stress may make stress-related migraine less likely.
Currently, there is no formal research looking at the relationship between migraine and COVID-19 specifically. However, people who experience migraine but are otherwise in good health are likely not at an elevated risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection or complications from COVID-19.
Some groups are more at risk for severe complications from diseases such as COVID-19, though. At-risk individuals include those who:
- are over the age of 65 years
- have underlying heart conditions
- have chronic kidney or liver disease
- have diabetes
- have severe obesity
- have a weakened immune system, including people receiving certain treatments, such as chemotherapy, steroid drugs, or other immune-suppressing drugs
Most people with COVID-19 infections have mild-to-moderate symptoms and are able to recover at home. Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or other respiratory infections should stay at home and focus on managing the symptoms.
However, they should stay in touch with their doctor to discuss their symptoms and possible treatments.
Anyone experiencing severe migraine symptoms should also call their doctor to discuss treatment options. Many healthcare providers offer virtual visits to help people who need regular care, such as those who experience migraine regularly.
People with a history of migraine should try to keep enough medication on hand to treat their symptoms for at least 90 days. Doing this ensures that the person has access to their treatments should they need to self-isolate or stay in quarantine for an extended period.
Anyone who experiences severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath and pressure in the chest, should seek immediate medical care.
COVID-19 is a respiratory viral infection that causes symptoms such as fatigue, fever, and a dry cough. In some cases, a person may also experience a headache.
Headaches can vary in severity, and some people with the infection may experience migraine headaches. Otherwise healthy people below the age of 65 years who experience migraine are unlikely to develop complications, as they are not part of an at-risk group.
Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home and call their doctor to discuss their treatment options. Most cases are relatively mild and do not require specialist treatment in the hospital. People experiencing severe symptoms should seek immediate medical care.
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