Are Headaches A Symptom Of COVID-19?

A headache is a potential, although uncommon, symptom of COVID-19. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 16 percent of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 experienced headaches. For those who do experience them, however, headaches can occur in the early and late stages of infection. As a non-specific symptom, headaches may be the result of an immune response to the body fighting off infection (via Health).

When you have a viral infection, your immune cells release proteins called cytokines. Cytokines can cause fever, inflammation, and fatigue, which can sometimes lead to a headache. Headaches could also be the result of frequent nose-blowing, brought on by COVID-19's more common symptoms of congestion and a runny nose. In addition, headaches could be related to another condition entirely, like migraines. These are just some possible theories, however. There is no definitive answer to explain exactly why some people with COVID-19 experience headaches, while others do not.

How to know if your headache is a sign of COVID-19

Since headaches are a common health complaint, it might be difficult to determine on your own if your headache is a symptom of COVID-19. Headaches caused by the coronavirus have been described as pulsating, moderate to severe in intensity, and occurring on both sides of the head (via Healthline). They may also get worse when you bend over.

For people who regularly experience migraines, coronavirus headaches will not be accompanied by common migraine symptoms, like sensitivity to light or sound. Headaches caused by COVID-19 will also likely occur alongside other symptoms of the virus, such as fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, body aches, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of taste or smell.

If you have a headache and any other symptoms of COVID-19, isolate yourself and contact your doctor immediately. They will advise you on whether or not you need to get tested.