Is It A Covid Headache Or A Migraine?

It would be an understatement to say that we’re all a bit on edge about coronavirus. Any slight tickle at the back of the throat can leave us wondering if it might be the first sign of an infection. What with headache being a potential symptom of COVID-19, is it any surprise that every migraine attack leaves us stressed and questioning if we’ve caught it.


The symptoms of a headache caused by COVID-19:

  • Is moderate to severe in intensity
  • Has a pulsing or pressing pain
  • Is felt on both sides of the head (rather than migraine which is often (but not always) felt on one side)
  • Is difficult to alleviate with over-the-counter medications like ibruprofen
  • Generally happens early on in the infection (probably not a comfort but worth noting)

Better news is that people with a history of migraines have reported differences between COVID-19 headaches and their usual migraine attacks.

Most notably perhaps, a COVID-19 headache does not occur alongside other typical migraine symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light and sound. Similarly, COVID-19 headaches have not yet been reported to be preceded by aura – unlike migraines. So if you have visual disturbances, feelings of vertigo, and other aura symptoms, you can be pretty sure that it’s probably nothing to do with COVID-19.

A COVID-19 headache is also not likely to response to medications which are used to treat acute migraine pain. Essentially, if it feels like your normal migraine, and it reacts to your medication as your normal migraine would, it’s probably not COVID-19 related.

If you do contract COVID-19, it has been recommended that if you are in the midst of an active infection then you should be wary of using aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and other NSAIDS. Paracetamol, triptan medications, and usual preventative medications have been deemed to be safe however.

Some final good news to do with migraines and coronavirus: suffering from migraines does not increase your likelihood of contracting COVID-19, so that’s something.

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