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Migraines increase after Covid

Unfortunately, Covid is still not completely behind us. With the emergence of a new variant the government has started the roll out of a new booster immunisation programme. We are seeing more and more patients with long Covid and headaches.

It is estimated that 1 out of 8 people who get Covid develop long Covid. Of those persons, 44% also experience headaches. Research has found that many of those headaches are migraines - and many patients who are afflicted say they had never had a migraine before. These migraines tend to persist for at least 5 or

6 months, according to data from the American Headache Society. Intense throbbing, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and flashing lights often zig zagging or grey clouds. What's more, other patients may suddenly have more frequent or intense versions of headaches

they've not noticed before.

The mechanism by which long Covid could cause migraines is not yet fully understood, but many doctors believe that inflammation caused by the virus plays a key role. In Covid-19, inflammation occurs because of a cytokine storm. Cytokines, which are proteins essential for a strong immune system, can be overproduced in a patient with Covid, which causes too much inflammation in any organ in the body, including the brain. This can result in new daily headaches for some patients.

Doctors normally treat these patients with standard migraine medications and usually prescribe triptans which have been some

what effective in reducing the severity and duration of the migraines. A daily supplement of magnesium and a daily dose of aspirin can also work for some patients.

Lifestyle modification have also been shown to help. One expert recommends that patients should:

  • Keep regular sleep hours, getting up and going to bed at the same time every day;

  • Take daily exercise;

  • Track migraine triggers and patterns in a journal;

  • Try to identify other lifestyle changes that help, like managing stress and staying hydrated.

The best news of all is that these strategies have been proven to work for patients who are diligent in following them.

Doctors are very optimistic about good outcomes for patients with long Covid and migraines. They normally advise patients that they will get better long-term.


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