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Cough, fever and shortness of breath was once a number of the commonest indicators (moreover a constructive take a look at) that you simply’d been contaminated with COVID-19. However the newest variants have introduced one other rising symptom to the desk: headache.

“Earlier within the pandemic we had been seeing complications ceaselessly in sufferers who had misplaced their sense of scent and style, however with Omicron, we at the moment are seeing complications even with out lack of senses, and so they usually happen each throughout and after the an infection interval,” says Thomas Intestine, D.O., director of the Publish-COVID Restoration Heart at Staten Island College Hospital, a part of Northwell Well being in New York.

And analysis is beginning to emerge that backs up these anecdotal medical findings. Headache, fatigue and cold-like signs comparable to runny nostril had been essentially the most generally reported Omicron signs, says one latest examine within the journal The BMJ, whereas one other in The Journal of Headache and Ache discovered headache to be one of the crucial frequent and persisting “lengthy Covid” signs.

Medical consultants are additionally discovering that complications are presenting as a Covid-19 symptom in each people who find themselves predisposed (a.ok.a beforehand suffered from complications pre-infection), and people who have by no means had a headache earlier than in any respect. “Many sufferers are saying that they’ve a headache for the primary time throughout Covid, which is unlucky,” says Rafia Shafqat, M.D., an OhioHealth neurologist.

Right here’s what to find out about a Covid-19 headache, plus the best way to discover some aid.

What does a COVID-19 headache really feel like?

For those who’ve ever had a headache or ceaselessly cope with them, this may sound acquainted. However since there are a number of sorts of complications — migraine, rigidity and cluster being the biggies— there’s an opportunity it’s possible you’ll not have skilled this actual kind of headache ache earlier than. “Most individuals report it to be a tension-type headache, with a band-like phenomenon, nevertheless it can be a migraine-type headache that comes with nausea or mild and sound sensitivity,” explains Rachel Colman, M.D., board-certified neurologist and headache drugs specialist at Hartford Healthcare Ayer Neuroscience Institute in Connecticut.

Dr. Shafqat says a COVID-19 headache might also really feel like or be accompanied by:

  • Throbbing or pulsating ache

  • Sharp, stabbing ache within the temples or again of the pinnacle

  • Vertigo, lightheadedness or dizziness

  • Sensory dysfunction comparable to numbness or tingling, problem considering or ringing within the ears

What causes a COVID0-19 headache?

There may very well be a number of issues at play. For one, the body-wide irritation you expertise whereas contaminated with the virus may set off a headache, as may the blood vessels in your mind changing into infected, says Dr. Colman. Then there’s the potential neurological piece, since we all know COVID-19 can assault our neurological system, plus headache usually is a neurological situation. “The speculation is that after the virus has gone up via the nostril to the olfactory bulb (which impacts our senses), it may assault nerves that contribute to ache within the head and influence blood vessels within the mind,” says Dr. Colman. “So a direct invasion there may be one concept for why folks have COVID-related complications.”

Different issues that occur throughout an an infection, comparable to not staying hydrated sufficient, not consuming sufficient or not getting good sleep might also contribute to or worsen a headache.

How lengthy does a COVID-19 headache final?

It relies upon. Some folks might have a headache till they take a look at damaging, whereas others might solely have a headache for a number of days of the lively an infection interval. How lengthy complications final throughout “lengthy COVID” is even murkier, with the symptom presenting for days, weeks or months. “It’s a combined bag. Some sufferers who’ve had migraine and rigidity complications earlier than say they turn out to be extra frequent proper after COVID, and a few individuals who have by no means had them routinely are creating tension-like headache signs that linger,” Dr. Intestine says. “Normally, we see the headache signs go away after a number of months.”

What’s the easiest way to get aid from a COVID-19 headache?

Spoiler alert: There’s no magic repair. “It’s just about the identical stuff you’d do for a headache in one other state of affairs; sadly there’s not something additional particular that you are able to do to really feel higher,” says Dr. Colman. “Way of life components are tremendous vital, and in order for you one trick I’d say rooster soup is at all times a good suggestion — it’s hydrating, has vitamins and electrolytes, and is reassuring.”

Concentrate on these life-style habits to assist with a COVID-19 and “lengthy COVID” complications:

  • Take over-the-counter ache medicines comparable to acetaminophen or ibuprofen to assist with ache through the acute an infection interval. “In the beginning of COVID they had been saying to not take sure ache relievers, however that’s outdated information, so take what helps your headache and/or your different signs,” says Dr. Shafqat.

  • Keep hydrated. Whenever you don’t get sufficient fluids, tissues and your mind contract, which places strain on nerves that may set off a headache.

  • Don’t skip meals. Even in the event you don’t really feel like consuming, it’s vital to to be able to forestall blood sugar adjustments that will result in a headache. Strive easy-to-consume meals you can pack vitamin in, comparable to smoothies, soups or stews, oatmeal, eggs and toast.

  • Concentrate on sleep. When you’ve recovered from COVID, strive your finest to get again to your common sleep-wake schedule. “I do know it may be onerous to sleep when you’ve got a headache, however strive your finest to get seven to eight hours,” Dr. Shafqat says. This may additionally assist fight fatigue, one other widespread “lengthy Covid” symptom.

  • Attempt to tame stress, which is usually a headache set off.

  • As soon as you’re feeling higher, do mild bodily exercise like strolling. “It may be onerous to contemplate going again to the kind of train you used to do, however simply begin gradual and construct again up,” Dr. Colman says.

  • If you understand one thing about the environment is triggering your headache or making it worse — comparable to sure lights, sounds or smells — “taking your self out of that atmosphere is an effective first step to assist terminate that headache,” Dr. Intestine says.

  • Keep up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations. “That is nonetheless among the finest issues you are able to do to assist forestall “lengthy COVID” signs,” says Dr. Intestine. “The bivalent vaccine has been good at this.”

When to see a physician for a COVID-19 headache:

If in case you have “essentially the most horrifying headache of your life,” search medical consideration instantly as a result of it may probably sign one thing life-threatening like a mind bleed, says Dr. Intestine. And at all times head to the ER in the event you expertise a headache accompanied by stiff neck, decreased degree of consciousness, seizure or extreme mild sensitivity, says Dr. Colman, as these might be indicators of COVID-related meningitis or encephalitis (irritation of the liner of the mind, attributable to an infection).

Typically, it’s a good suggestion to speak to your physician anytime complications intervene together with your day by day life or turn out to be frequent sufficient so that you can be taking OTC ache relievers frequently — they may help you determine medicines that will provide help to get aid, or pinpoint underlying points that may very well be contributing.

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