The most notable symptoms among COVID-19 patients include a runny nose or a cough, but did you know that many of those diagnosed with the virus also often report a persistent, severe headache? This symptom isn’t immediately recognized as coronavirus for some individuals because they already suffer from severe head pain caused by migraine. So, how can you tell the difference?

COVID-19 Headache

Headaches are a widespread complaint among patients experiencing any viral infection, and it’s not uncommon to experience headaches with the common cold or flu. However, those suffering from a COVID-19 infection often describe their headache as:

  • A throbbing sensation in the back of the neck area
  • An intense pressure on top of the head
  • Pain throughout the whole head

Many individuals report that their head pain with COVID-19 is unrelenting and doesn’t go away with medications. Others say their headache is like intense sinus pressure.

While it’s certain that headaches related to the coronavirus vary as much as the other symptoms of the virus do, here are a few ways to tell if it’s a migraine or if you should get tested.

Migraine Head Pain

If your headache has been going on for more than three days and lasts longer than four hours, there is a chance that it could be a migraine. Migraine episodes can last between four hours and three days (ugh!) and generally occur at least twice a month.

Migraine pain can be moderate to severe. Many individuals report their migraine headache characteristics as pulsing or throbbing.

It still sounds a lot like a COVID-19 headache, right?

So, what are the differences between a COVID-19 headache and a migraine? Well, migraines tend to have a clear trigger, while COVID-19 headaches don’t always seem to follow a pattern. Also, migraines usually involve only one side of the head, whereas COVID-19 headaches may affect both sides equally.

If you’re having trouble telling which kind of headache you might be dealing with, then consider getting checked out by a doctor. They will likely ask about your history of migraines and whether you’ve had them recently.

One other way to know is the presence of other COVID-19 symptoms, including:

  • Runny nose
  • Dry cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of taste
  • Loss of smell
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

If you exhibit any of these symptoms in combination with head pain, we recommend that you get tested for COVID-19.

What Are Common Symptoms of Migraines?

Here are just a few things that people commonly complain about when describing their migraines:

  • Intense sensitivity to light and sound
  • Sensitivity to smells such as perfume, smoke, food, etc.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Excessive hunger
  • Feeling hot or cold
  • Muscle weakness

If you have any of these symptoms combined with head pain, you are likely experiencing a migraine. However, if you don’t know for sure, it’s still OK to get tested.

Know Your Migraine Triggers

Do you regularly experience migraines? Know your triggers! For many people, these may include:

  • Exposure to bright lights
  • Foods high in caffeine
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Certain foods
  • Food preservatives
  • Weather changes
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Some medicines
  • Other medical conditions
  • Stress

It’s important to note that some of these factors aren’t necessarily the cause of your migraine pain, but they can worsen your migraines.

We recommend that you keep a journal of what’s happening in your life and what you’re eating before your migraine symptoms begin if you’re not sure of your migraine pain triggers.

Another Cause of Migraine Pain

For many individuals, the cause of their migraine pain is related to a dangerous sleep-breathing disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. OSA is caused when the throat’s soft tissue relaxes and falls into the airway, cutting off oxygen flow to the body.

When this repeatedly happens throughout the night, it disrupts standard sleeping patterns and often leads to daytime fatigue. In addition, because the body doesn’t receive enough oxygen, the blood pressure drops, causing increased heart rate and elevated stress levels and head pain.

What Are the Symptoms of OSA?

The most common symptoms of OSA include:

  • Snoring loudly during sleep
  • Feeling tired all day after waking up from sleep
  • Difficulty breathing through the mouth
  • Having dry skin
  • Being overweight and having difficulty losing weight
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Mental health issues
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Poor concentration
  • Memory loss
  • Impaired judgment
  • Inability to focus
  • Migraines and head pain

To learn more about treating OSA, tension-type headaches or migraines, contact us today to schedule a consultation with us!