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Very little is known about the effect of any COVID-19 vaccine on cluster headache. What little research we have has been done on migraine and tension-type headache. We don’t have answers to all the questions. That doesn’t mean we don’t know anything.
Headache disorder = HIGH Risk for COVID-19 Complications
- People with headache disorders with an active COVID-19 infection are at increased risk of developing neurological symptoms such as loss of taste and smell, “COVID headache,” and worsening of underlying headache disorder1,12
- The headache associated with COVID-19 is unique. Patients typically describe it as severe, resistant to treatment, with migraine-like characteristics. Headache specialists identify this headache symptom as a secondary headache disorder, Headache attributed to systemic viral infection.3,6
- “COVID headache” often lasts for many weeks after the patient has recovered. It can persist for up to 6 months and is one feature of “long COVID.”2
- Sars-CoV-2 has been detected in the cerebrospinal fluid of infected patients.11
- Sars-CoV-2 has been found in the brain tissue during post-mortem autopsies of patients who died from COVID-19.
- The working theory is that the virus crosses the blood-brain barrier via the trigeminal pathways, aided by ACE2 enzymes and CGRP when it lodges in the nasal mucosa.8
Vaccine-related headache symptoms
- Headache is the most commonly reported side effect of ANY vaccine, not just those for COVID-19.
- The “headache” side effect is usually accompanied by a low-grade fever, goes away often without treatment, and is best characterized as a tension-type headache.4
- People with pre-existing headache disorders are more likely to experience this side effect with any vaccine.5,10
A cross-sectional study was conducted involving 172 individuals who experienced headache due to COVID-19 infection.7
- 52.9% had a diffuse headache
- median intensity was 7/10
- median frequency was 7 days per week
- 52.9% had a pre-existing headache disorder
- more frequent headache
- more severe intensity
- Bolay H, Özge A, et al. Are Migraine Patients at Increased Risk for Symptomatic Coronavirus Disease 2019 Due to Shared Comorbidities? Headache 2020; 60:2508-2521. doi: 10.1111/head.13998.
- Caronna E, Alpuente A, Torres-Ferrus M, Pozo-Rosich P. Toward a better understanding of persistent headache after mild COVID-19: Three migraine-like yet distinct scenarios. Headache 2021; 61:1277–1280. doi: 10.1111/head.14197.
- Caronna E, Ballvé A, et al. Headache: A striking prodromal and persistent symptom, predictive of COVID-19 clinical evolution. Cephalalgia 2020, Vol. 40(13) 1410-1421. 1 September 2020. DOI: 10.1177/0333102420965157.
- Ekizoglu E, Gezegen H, et al. The characteristics of COVID-19 vaccine-related headache: Clues gathered from the healthcare personnel in the pandemic. Cephalalgia 5 August 2021. 0 (0) 1-10. DOI: 10.1177/03331024211042390.
- Gelfand AA, Poland G. Migraine treatment and COVID-19 vaccines: No cause for concern Headache 2021; 61:409-411. doi: 10.1111/head.14086.
- López JT, García-Azorín D, et al. Phenotypic characterization of acute headache attributed to SARS-CoV-2: An ICHD-3 validation study on 106 hospitalized patients. Cephalalgia 2020, Vol 40(13) 1432-1442. 31 August 2020. DOI: 10.1177/0333102420965146.
- Magdy R, Hussein M, et al. Characteristics of headache attributed to COVID-19 infection and predictors of its frequency and intensity: A cross sectional study. Cephalalgia 2020. Vo. 40(13) 1422-1431. doi: 10.1177/0333102420965140.
- Messlinger K, Neuhuber W, and May, A. Activation of the trigeminal system as a likely target of SARS-CoV-2 may contribute to anosmia in COVID-19. Cephalalgia 12 July 2021. 0 (0) 1-5. DOI: 10.1177/03331024211036665.
- Rocha-Filho PAS and Magalhães JE. Headache associated with COVID-19: Frequency, characteristics and association with anosmia and ageusia. Cephalalgia 2020, Vol 40(13) 1443-1451. 27 September 2020. DOI: 10.1177/0333102420966770.
- Sekiuchi K, Watanabe N, et al. Incidence of headache after COVID-19 vaccination in patients with history of headache: A cross-sectional study. Cephalalgia 20 July 2021. 0 (0) 1-7. DOI: 10.1177/03331024211038654.
- Seth V and Kushwaha S. Residents and Fellows: Headache Rounds Headache Due to COVID-19: A Disabling Combination. Headache 2020; 60:2618-2621. doi: 10.1111/head.14006.
- Tolebeyan A, Zhang N, et al. Headache in Patients With Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Infection: A Narrative Review. Headache 2020; 69:2131-2138. DOI: 10.1111/head.13980.