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COVID-19 Symptom: migraine

Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team

Updated on


  • Migraine after COVID-19 can occur due to the effect of the coronavirus on the nerves and an increase in stress levels.
  • Long COVID migraine can have an impact on your daily activities.
  • COVID migraine treatment mainly consists of pain medication or triptans combined with lifestyle alterations.

COVID migraine is a condition that some may experience after being infected with the coronavirus. It usually happens to people who have already experienced migraines before getting COVID-19. Migraines from COVID-19 can impact the quality of life due to the severity of these headaches. In this article, our medical team will discuss whether migraine is a COVID-19 symptom and how to find relief for your COVID migraine.

What type of headache does COVID-19 cause, and how does it compare to migraine? 

It’s common for people to experience headaches due to COVID-19. These headaches usually feel slightly different from a regular migraine or tension headache and tend to appear at the beginning of the infection. A headache is one of the most common early symptoms of the coronavirus infection. The headaches that COVID-19 causes are usually felt on both sides of the head, as opposed to migraine attacks, which generally only occur on one side of the head. A COVID headache usually causes throbbing pain that mostly occurs around the eyes, above the ears, and above the eyebrows. 

Headache is a typical symptom after an infection with coronavirus and often occurs if you’re also experiencing other symptoms related to an upper respiratory tract infection, such as sore throat and nasal congestion. Other neurological signs, such as a loss of taste and smell, are also associated with headaches. 

In the case of COVID-19, a headache is often related to severe neurological impact, which can linger for weeks to months after the original infection. When this happens, it’s often referred to as long COVID.

Is migraine a symptom of COVID-19? 

Migraine is a type of severe headache which causes a throbbing pain usually felt on one side of the head. There are also some other symptoms that people with migraine can experience: 2 

  • Problems with your sight, such as flashing lights 
  • A numb or tingling sensation
  • Difficulty tolerating noises and light
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Difficulty speaking 
  • A stiff neck 
  • Feeling very tired 

Migraine and COVID-19 seem to be associated, as studies have shown that patients who have a history of migraines tend to notice an increase in the amount of migraine attacks that they experience after their infection.3 

The origin of COVID migraine and migraine, in general, is still unknown. Still, scientists believe that the most crucial reason why people experience more migraines after COVID-19 can be found in the trigeminovascular system. The trigeminal nerves are:

  • Nerves originate in the brain stem and are essential for the sensitivity of the face.
  • The structures that surround the brain.
  • The surrounding blood vessels.

When you’re experiencing migraine, it’s believed that it’s this system that is activated. COVID-19 can affect this system, as these nerve endings can directly be invaded by the coronavirus.4 3 

Additionally, migraines can be triggered by several factors, including: 3 

  • Light, smells, and sounds
  • Stress and lack of sleep
  • Inappropriate diet
  • Menstruation
  • Weather changes 
  • Smoking 

A few of these factors, such as stress and lack of sleep, can be related to COVID-19 as many studies indicated that fear of COVID and stress from the infection itself can increase levels of anxiety, which also has its effect on the quality of sleep and life in general. The stress due to COVID could explain the increase in migraine attacks that people experience.3 

How long does COVID migraine last?

COVID migraine usually occurs after the infection with the coronavirus and can last anywhere between a few hours and daysSome symptoms can already be noticed a few days before the actual migraine attack begins. If your migraine has increased in intensity or duration or if the attacks occur more than once a week, you should contact your healthcare provider.2 

How to treat COVID migraine

COVID migraine can be treated in various ways. Your healthcare provider could recommend you use any of the following medications: 2 

  1. Painkillers such as Ibuprofen and Paracetamol
  2. Triptans, which are medicines that can help calm down overactive pain nerves 

Besides medication, lifestyle modifications can also be helpful. There are things you can do to improve your headaches, such as: 2

  • Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet
  • Eating at regular times
  • Consuming less caffeine
  • Stop smoking 
  • Decreasing your stress levels 

Wrapping up

Migraine from COVID-19 usually occurs a while after the infection with the coronavirus, which is why it’s also sometimes referred to as post COVID migraine. COVID-19 can increase the intensity and frequency of migraines due to the direct effect that the coronavirus can have on the trigeminovascular system. If your infection with the coronavirus has caused an increase in your migraine, then it’s recommended to talk to your healthcare provider about possible treatment options. 


Q: Can I take migraine medicine with COVID-19? 
A: If you’re taking migraine medicine, it’s recommended to inform your healthcare provider so that they can provide you with the appropriate medication for COVID-19. 

Q: How to treat COVID migraine?
A: COVID migraine is mainly treated as regular migraine with pain medication, triptans, and lifestyle alterations.  

Q: Do you get migraines with COVID? 
A: It’s possible to get a migraine or another type of headache when infected with the coronavirus. More often, migraines occur after COVID-19. 

Q: How long does COVID migraine last? 
A: COVID migraine usually occurs after the infection with the coronavirus and can last anywhere between a few hours to a few days.