Some patients’ headaches can continue after they’ve recovered from COVID-19, and neurologists are working to develop effective strategies to treat the terrible pain.
“Imagine a 24/7 headache for a period of three months or longer,” said Brian M. Plato, D.O., neurologist and headache specialist with Norton Neuroscience Institute. “We’re seeing a lot of people who were unwell with COVID-19 a few months ago,” says the doctor. Even though individuals are no longer infected with the virus, headaches remain a common and persistent symptom
The syndrome known as new daily persistent headache has previously been linked to a range of triggers, including viral infections. According to Dr. Plato, neurologists and headache experts expect to notice a continued increase in headaches after a COVID-19 diagnosis.
Dr. Plato remarked, "To be honest, this is something that I’m not surprised about.". “However, I believe what sets this virus apart from others is the endurance of headache among these patients.”
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After COVID-19, there are several treatment choices for headaches
According to Dr. Plato, while COVID-19 is a relatively new condition, researchers are still looking for the best treatments for chronic headaches.
“For some [patients], they get better on their own as time goes on,” he said. “However, for individuals with more persistent symptoms, we’ve found that putting them on a course of steroids is generally the most effective treatment. We also take our other migraine medications on a daily preventive and as-needed basis.”
When should you go to the doctor?
Those who are enduring chronic headaches after receiving a COVID-19 diagnosis should not believe the symptom will go away on its own, according to Dr. Plato.
“I’m seeing folks who are coming in with COVID-19-related life-altering and long-term effects,” he said. “It may not be making headlines like individuals dying from the disease, but they’re suffering from severe headaches that are making it difficult for them to go to work and spend time with their families. The long-term consequences are extremely debilitating.
“If you don’t feel better after recovering from the illness, go to a medical specialist, whether it’s your general care doctor or a neurologist.”