What to learn about post-COVID complications, in accordance with consultants


There’s nothing like a throbbing headache to aggravate an already terrible illness. Listed as one of many potential symptoms of COVID-19, a headache might seem like the least of your worries when a flu-like illness hits your system. But for some people, a COVID headache tends to linger long after they first test positive, research shows.

People living with « post-COVID headaches » are beginning to share their experiences on social media, and many are emphasizing the impact the pain has had on their daily lives.

“I now have headaches behind my eyes every day since I had COVID five weeks ago,” one person said. tweeted. « It’s super fun when 90% of my job is reading and watching screens. » Another one tweeted: « Gave up and I reserved a [appointment] with me [doctor] to talk about the insane post-covid headaches I get a month after infection. I rarely get them usually, but now nothing helps! »

Anecdotally, a headache seems to be a « very common problem [COVID] symptom », especially in those who were probably ill with one of the omicron variants, Thomas Russo, MDprofessor and chief of infectious diseases at the University at Buffalo in New York, says SELF.

Each person’s experience tends to be a little different, depending on their susceptibility to headaches in general, the severity of their COVID infection, as well as any medications taken to help reduce pain, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen, Amesh A. Adalja, MDinfectious disease expert and principal investigator at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, says SELF.

He notes that a headache usually lasts « a few days at most » when someone is sick with COVID. So why does the pain persist for weeks or even months in some people? Here’s what the experts know so far.

What do post-COVID headaches look like and are they common?

The level of pain tends to vary from person to person. “Viral diseases are known to incite [migraine attacks] in people with migraine,” says Dr. Adalja. In those not already sensitive to migraine-level pain, « post-COVID headaches often have more in common with tension or sinus headaches, » Amit Sachdev, MDdirector of the division of neuromuscular medicine at Michigan State University, says SELF.

But how often this happens to people who « recover » from their initial infection isn’t entirely clear. Experts say currently headaches tend to be more common during disease, not afterwards. « Most patients with headaches associated with COVID will have it in the acute phase, » says Dr. Sachdev, which refers to the time when a person feels sick with symptoms. « It’s common for many viral illnesses, where head or body pain is common. »

However, a study published in October 2022 offers a bit more information. Researchers analyzed data from 200 people who contracted COVID-19 and reported having symptoms after infection, which was four weeks from the date they tested positive, or four weeks after discharge. of the hospital. (Hospitalized and non-hospitalized people were included.) The researchers found that 66.5% of these people said they still had headaches, which was the second most common self-reported symptom after fatigue. The sample size of the study is small and more research is needed, but the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention (CDC) points out that neurological symptoms, including headaches, are commonly reported in people diagnosed with long COVID.

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