The stressful atmosphere of the pandemic has triggered migraines for many migraineurs.  The migraine brain is sensitive and likes consistency.  This disruption in lifestyle has been a trigger for many migraineurs.  The blurred boundaries between work and home life is difficult for many people.   As coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continue to rise globally, many people, especially those with medical conditions – including migraine sufferers – worry about their potential risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Here’s what we know so far about migraines and COVID-19.

Is migraine a symptom of COVID-19?

Experts know that COVID-19 can wreak havoc in almost every organ of the human body, including the heart, the kidneys, the gastrointestinal tract, and the brain. Blood clots, pulmonary embolisms, and chilblains, an unusual and swelling of the small vessels of the skin that people have come to know as the “COVID toe” are just a few of the many unexpected complications of the coronavirus.

More predictable symptoms include a dry cough, fever, shortness of breath, and headaches. According to a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in February, about 14 percent of people with COVID-19 experience headaches, which can be similar to migraines and tension-type headaches. And, because migraines are a type of headaches, it is possible for some migraine-prone people to get these headaches if they have COVID-19.

A small observational study presented at this year’s virtual America Headache Society Annual Meeting found that people can experience headaches similar to migraines or tension-type before getting other COVID-19 symptoms (presymptomatic phase). Interestingly enough, these headaches were also associated with having a shorter symptomatic period.

However, it is important to note that research on COVID-19 is still very limited, and more studies are needed to fully understand the role of the virus concerning migraine headaches and other neurological conditions.

The coronavirus pandemic has been and continues to be a great source of stress, anxiety, and emotional uncertainty for many people. And, as most migraineurs know, stress is a direct trigger of migraines. The American Migraine Foundation recommends migraineurs take steps to minimize their stress, with techniques like:

  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Exercising for about 30 minutes every day
  • Doing relaxation techniques (mindfulness meditation, biofeedback, yoga)
  • Taking breaks

 

Are migraine sufferers more at risk of COVID-19?

Migraines do not increase your risk for COVID-19 infection and do not seem to increase your risk for COVID-19-related complications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who may have an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 include those who have:

  • Cancer
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Obesity
  • Serious heart conditions (unstable angina, heart failure, coronary artery disease)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • A weakened immune system

 

Reduce Stress When and Where Possible
  • taking breaks from news stories and social media feeds about COVID-19
  • doing breathing exercises or meditation practices
  • stretching
  • avoiding alcohol and drugs
  • exercising regularly
  • getting plenty of sleep
  • contacting friends or family members to discuss feelings

 

Is it safe to go to my migraine appointment during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The coronavirus pandemic has forced hospitals, health centers, and doctor offices to take extraordinary measures to continue providing care to those who need it in the safest possible way. One of those measures is offering virtual or “telehealth” visits as a safer alternative to outpatient appointments.

A virtual or telehealth visit lets you talk to your doctor by phone or video, usually through a secure and confidential platform. These visits are appropriate for instances where you don’t need a close physical examination, like medication management appointments (refills), follow-up visits, and regular migraine monitoring.

If you decide to visit your doctor in person, there are measures you can take to minimize your risk. The CDC encourages patients to cover their mouth and nose with facial coverings, avoid touching their face, and practice social distancing while inside the clinic or doctor’s office. You may also want to check with your doctor to see if they can prescribe a larger supply of your medications to avoid frequent trips to the pharmacy.

When possible,

  • taking breaks from news stories and social media feeds about COVID-19
  • doing breathing exercises or meditation practices
  • stretching
  • avoiding alcohol and drugs
  • exercising regularly
  • getting plenty of sleep
  • contacting friends or family members to discuss feelings

 

 

 

 

Curt Hendrix, MS, CCN, CNS

Curt Hendrix, MS, CCN, CNS
Akeso Health Sciences Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Curt Hendrix, MS, CCN, CNS, has an unwavering commitment to help people with chronic health issues. Curt holds advanced degrees in chemistry and clinical nutrition and has dedicated his life to the research and development of innovative natural medicines.