When you have COVID, it can cause headaches. A headache might have been the first problem you noticed when you were unwell with COVID, even before you had breathing problems or other COVID symptoms. Headaches can be short or longer term symptoms.
Why do I have a headache with COVID?
Headaches are often a symptom of a viral infection, but for most people the presence of a headache does not always mean that the virus is still present in the body.
Migraines are headaches that can:
- Be more painful than a normal headache
- Make it hard to cope in bright light – you might feel like you need to be in a dark room
- Make you feel like you need to be sick
- Make you vomit
- Make you lose your appetite
- Give you an upset stomach
If you already get migraines, having COVID can make them worse and last longer. Long COVID headaches may be more common in people who have a history of headaches.
COVID can also cause a new long term headache that was not present before you had COVID but may last for some time afterwards and can be felt on a daily basis.
Being unwell with COVID can be stressful, and stress can also cause headaches.
How long will my headache last?
After COVID, you may get more headaches than you did before, and your headaches might last longer.
If you have headaches when you are unwell with COVID, they should get better after two weeks or sometimes longer.
What can I do to make my headache better?
- Try not to do things that you know will give you a headache
- Try not to drink alcohol
- Try to get a good night’s sleep
- Try not to get stressed
- Try to eat often and drink plenty of water
If you have had headaches before, it is best to use the same type of medicine to help with the headaches.
If you think your headache comes from your shoulders or neck being stiff, you could try light exercises to help you relax, such as meditation or stretches.
You can take painkillers but you should not take them for more than 3 days a week because this can make your headaches worse.
If you need a painkiller you can take paracetamol. If your headache is very bad you can check with your GP or your pharmacist to find the right medicine for you. Some of the prescribed medications may need to be taken every day to work effectively.
Follow the instructions on the label or leaflet about how to take the medicines, and to make sure you do not take too much.