Covid-19: Headache associated with milder infection, reveals study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on January 14, 2021

Researchers at the Hospital Universitario de La Princes in Madrid, Spain, found that Covid-19 patients who developed headaches as an early symptom of infection had a milder illness and reduced risk of death.

Headache is a common symptom in people infected with SARS-CoV-2, with a prevalence ranging between 13 per cent and 74.6 per cent, according to News Medical and Life Sciences report.

Further, it has been revealed that SARS-CoV-2 has a neuroinvasive potential. However, the degree of it remains unclear. It also remains unknown the real link between Covid-19 and the development of headache.

Hence, the researchers aimed to “identify factors associated with headache in Covid‐19 and headache characteristics.”

Study design

The study, published in the European Journal of Neurology, examined hospitalised Covid-19 patients with pneumonia in March 2020. The case-control study involved two groups, those with Covid-19 with headache and controls that comprise Covid-19 patients without headache.

The researchers obtained a complete medical history from each patient, noting demographic and clinical data, including age, sex, date of symptom onset, and clinical manifestations.

Neurologists also interviewed the hospitalised patients with the headache to understand their prior history of headache, sociodemographic variables, onset, duration, frequency, and intensity of attacks.

Other factors like pain localisation and type, and the presence of other related symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, and photophobia were also noted.

Study findings

The findings of the study suggested that of the 379 Covid-19 patients, 13 per cent developed a headache. Of these, 62 per cent were men, and the average age was 57. The team has found that younger people and those with fewer comorbidities were more likely to develop a headache.

Further, headache has been associated with reduced mortality or death, low levels of C-reactive protein, which is a sign of inflammation in the body, mild acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a complication of Covid-19, and oropharyngeal symptoms.

Among the symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection, pharyngitis or sore throat, loss of taste, joint pain, nausea, and vomiting were more common in patients with headache.

Authors of the study noted, “According to our results, migraine and tension-type headache were the most prevalent primary headaches in Covid-19 patients.”

The results showed that headaches are an important symptom of Covid-19, affecting 13 per cent of patients. Hospitalised Covid-19 patients who are younger and have no comorbidities, including hypertension, are more likely to develop a headache during the infection.

This indicates that headaches may manifest in patients with healthier backgrounds.

Published on January 14, 2021

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