How Long Does Headache Last With COVID-19? COVID-19 Symptoms

Medically Reviewed on 12/22/2022
How Long Does Headache Last With COVID-19
COVID-19 headaches typically last for a few days, although the duration depends on your age, immune system, and overall health condition

Headache is a potential symptom of COVID-19 and can also occur after getting vaccinated. COVID-19 headaches typically last for a few days, although the duration depends on your age, immune system, and overall health condition.

  • In mild cases of COVID-19, headaches will usually resolve within a few days. However, in more severe cases, mild or moderate headaches may come and go for up to 90 days. 
  • Doctors report that patients may complain of headache even after testing negative for COVID-19. According to new research, headache is a key COVID-19 symptom that predicts clinical progression of the disease. Headache can occur during the pre-symptomatic and symptomatic stages of COVID-19 and can sometimes mimic tension or migraine headaches.

It is unclear why some people with COVID-19 experience headaches while others do not. Even though studies show that headache is not a common symptom, it affects about 14% of people infected with the virus and appears to be the most reported symptom among people under age 40.

Why does COVID-19 cause headaches?

Your immune system reacts to viruses like the COVID-19 virus by attacking the cells, which can lead to symptoms such as headache. 

  • Immune cells release proteins called cytokines, which cause inflammation, fever, headache, and fatigue.
  • Physical discomfort of coughing and blowing your nose can also lead to headache.
  • Anxiety, lack of sleep, inadequate hydration or nutrition, etc. can also contribute to the development of headaches.

Patients infected with COVID-19 have described their headaches as retro-orbital pain accompanied by nausea, light sensitivity, and weakness.

In some cases, headache may not be a symptom of the illness but instead related to another underlying medical condition. 

How can I get rid of my COVID-19 headache?

COVID-19-related headache may be relieved with:

  • Avoiding dietary triggers, particularly alcohol consumption
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Managing stress
  • Staying hydrated
  • Eating a nutrient-rich diet

What painkillers can I take for COVID-19 headache?

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), particularly ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, and mefenamic acid, have been shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials of symptomatic headache treatment. Despite recent media reports claiming that certain NSAIDs, most notably ibuprofen, may be linked to worsened COVID-19 symptoms, there is no conclusive scientific evidence that the use of NSAIDs aggravates COVID-19 infection. 

In general, NSAIDs are highly effective in treating headaches. Acetaminophen and triptans are also considered safe for treating migraine-like headaches caused by COVID-19. Using steroids, however, for mild headaches can suppress the immune system and make people more susceptible to infections, including COVID-19 infection.

If you are experiencing headache with COVID-19, consult about which pain relievers to take. They will carefully evaluate the use of steroids and determine the dosage and duration in your case following treatment standards. To lessen the risk of infection, it is now suggested that the number of days on steroid medication be reduced.

What are other symptoms COVID-19?

The most common COVID-19 symptoms are fever, tiredness, and a dry cough.

According to some studies, COVID-19 may have more than 20 symptoms. Of course, having one or more of these symptoms does not guarantee you have COVID-19, as they can be caused by other illnesses. However, these symptoms have been reported more frequently by people who tested positive for the virus:

If you exhibit 7 or more of these symptoms, you may need to isolate yourself.

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Medically Reviewed on 12/22/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

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Belvis R. Headaches During COVID-19: My Clinical Case and Review of the Literature. Headache. 2020;60(7):1422-1426.

Medical News Today. Can COVID-19 cause headaches?

Healthline. Is a Headache a Common Symptom of COVID-19?