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. 2020 May 15;10.1111/head.13841.
doi: 10.1111/head.13841. Online ahead of print.

Headaches During COVID-19: My Clinical Case and Review of the Literature

Free PMC article

Headaches During COVID-19: My Clinical Case and Review of the Literature

Robert Belvis. Headache. .
Free PMC article


Objective: To analyze headaches related to COVID-19 based on personal case experience.

Background: COVID-19 is an infection caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The first reported case happened in Wuhan on December 1, 2019. At present, at least 1.8 million people are infected around the world and almost 110,000 people have died. Many studies have analyzed the clinical picture of COVID-19, but they are focused on respiratory symptoms and headache is generically treated.

Methods: I describe and discuss my headaches during my COVID-19 and I review the MEDLINE literature about headaches and COVID-19.

Results: More than 41,000 COVID-19 patients have been included in clinical studies and headache was present in 8%-12% of them. However, no headache characterization was made in these studies. As a headache expert and based on my own personal clinical case, headaches related to COVID-19 can be classified in the 2 phases of the disease. Acute headache attributed to systemic viral infection, primary cough headache, tension-type headache and headache attributed to heterophoria can appear in the first phase (the influenza-like phase); and headache attributed to hypoxia and a new headache, difficult to fit into the ICHD3, can appear if the second phase (the cytokine storm phase) occurs.

Conclusions: Several headaches can appear during COVID-19 infection. All of them are headaches specified in the ICHD3, except 1 that occurs from the 7th day after the clinical onset. This headache is probably related to the cytokine storm that some patients suffer and it could be framed under the ICHD3 headache of Headache attributed to other non-infectious inflammatory intracranial disease. Although the reported prevalence of headaches as a symptom of COVID-19 infection is low, this experience shows that, very probably, it is underestimated.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-12; coronavirus; cytokine storm; headache.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Chest radiography showing bilateral infiltrations in the lung parenchyma suggestive of COVID‐19 pneumonia.

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