Can COVID-19 Cause Migraines?   

Can COVID-19 Cause Migraines?

woman in bed with a headache
Clinical Contributors to this story:
Monte B. Pellmar, M.D.

Headaches are among the most frequent symptoms reported by people infected with COVID-19, and also among people contending with “long COVID” cases in which some health complaints persist for weeks or months after the illness passes. Worse, people who already were dealing with migraines prior to COVID infection often report that their symptoms grow worse after getting COVID. 

A 2021 study in The Journal of Headache and Pain indicates that headaches last longer post-COVID, and that migraine patients were increasing their use of pain-relieving drugs to mitigate the headaches’ severity. A different study in the same journal showed more than half of migraine patients reported that after getting COVID, their headache frequency increased; nearly two-thirds reported increased severity. 

Graphic outlining COVID and migraine statistics. More than half of migraine patients reported that after getting COVID-19, their headache frequency increased.

“The last thing anybody needs during this pandemic is for their migraines to get worse, but unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happening,” says neurologist and headache medicine specialist, Monte B. Pellmar, M.D.

Finding Migraine Relief

Try to avoid common triggers of migraines:

  • Try to manage your stress level through meditation or other relaxation techniques.
  • Avoid excessive caffeine and limit alcohol intake.
  • Regular sleep habits and avoid skipping meals.
  • Quit smoking. 

    Migraine specific abortives and preventatives can be part of the solution, but migraine sufferers should not over utilize even over-the-counter pain relievers since it can result in increased headache frequency.

    “Other than too frequent use of both over-the-counter and prescription medications,
    a healthy lifestyle and help from a physician prescribing a variety of preventative medications can improve your quality of life,” says Dr. Pellmar.

    There are many treatment options that may prevent migraines, such as anti-seizure medicine, antidepressants, blood pressure medicine, Botox, CGRP-peptide inhibitors as well as a number of neuro stimulators.  

    “Contending with intensified migraines, on top of the other challenges of the pandemic and of COVID-19 infection, can feel like an unworkable burden,” says Dr. Pellmar. “As doctors’ understanding grows regarding COVID-19 and the role it plays in causing or exacerbating headaches, so will patients’ relief from one of COVID’s unpleasant side effects.”

Next Steps & Resources:

  • Meet our source: Monte B. Pellmar, M.D.
  • To make an appointment with Dr. Pellmar or a provider near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website.
  • Learn about headache and migraine treatments at Hackensack Meridian Health

    The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.


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