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Is a Headache a Symptom of Coronavirus? Here’s What Experts Say

Is a Headache a Symptom of Coronavirus? Here’s What Experts Say

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the most common symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, are fever, tiredness, and a dry cough—and some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea.

A headache isn’t a common symptom of the virus, but about 14% of people infected with corna have experienced it, according to the Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). And as more people share their COVID-19 experiences on social media, it’s clear that some of those headaches are pretty intense.

I will be updating regularly on my condition. My breath is labored, I cough when I take a deep breath, and my head feels like it’s gripped in a vice. Strong pills of acetominophen (paracetamol) help as do Lemsips or Theraflu. Do NOT take ibuprofen. #covid19

— FitzDragon (@fitz_dragon) March 28, 2020
Any experience out there of COVID-19 without a persistent cough? Fever, persitent headache, laboured breathing but only occasional cough. Could it be Covid or more likely to be another bug? #coronavirusnetherlands#COVIDsymptoms

— Crisi (@CrisiLass) March 28, 2020
Why would COVID-19—a respiratory disease—cause a headache? And why are only some people experiencing this particular symptom?

“Many viruses, from those that cause the common cold to the flu to COVID-19, cause the body to respond in ways that try to destroy the infection,” William W. Li, MD, author of Eat to Beat Disease, tells Health. “One response is that immune cells release proteins called cytokines that cause inflammation, fever, and fatigue. Along with these reactions can come a headache.”

As a “non-specific symptom” of infection and other health conditions, it’s difficult to say why some people with COVID-19 get headaches, while others don’t. “It’s not a common symptom of the illness, and it may also be related to other underlying conditions a person suffers,” says Dr. Li.

A headache can be caused by many factors related to the coronavirus, such as the physical discomfort of constant coughing and a stuffy sinus. “Even frequent nose blowing can cause a headache,” saysDr. Li. Anxiety, a lack of sleep, not eating properly, and failing to stay hydrated can also lead to headache.

If one of your COVID-19 symptoms is headache, Dr. Li recommends continuing with pain relief medications unless you’re told by your doctor to discontinue them. “While there were early reports that some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, were not recommended for COVID-19, these have not been borne out by experience in hospitals,” he adds.

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A study published on March 30 in the journal ecancermedicalscience analyzed 89 existing studies on other coronavirus strains, such as SARS and MERS, plus existing literature on the new coronavirus. Researchers found no evidence against the use of ibuprofen, which people often take to relieve headache pain, for patients with COVID-19.

If you have COVID-19 or suspect you might have it, and you’re in any doubt about which pain relief meds to take for headache, ask your doctor to be on the safe side, suggests Dr. Li. Beyond that, try to eat plenty of nutritious foods, keep your fluid intake up, and get as much rest as possible.

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it’s possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.

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21 Comments

  1. Reply

    This is really good and interesting to know

  2. Profile photo ofItz Kvng Twitch

    Reply

    Very interesting

  3. Reply

    Nice update

  4. Reply

    Good article

  5. Reply

    Interesting

  6. Reply

    Stay safe everyone

  7. Reply

    Interesting

  8. Reply

    Tnx for d information

  9. Reply

    Very interesting

  10. Reply

    This is quite an interesting update

  11. Reply

    Very informative update

  12. Reply

    Stay safe

  13. Reply

    The symptoms are quite confusing

  14. Reply

    Interesting

  15. Reply

    Good to know

  16. Reply

    Headache is actually a symptom to many illness

  17. Reply

    Thanks for sharing

  18. Reply

    head is actually the number one symptom of many disease

  19. Reply

    Interesting

  20. Reply

    Nice update

  21. Reply

    Good article

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