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Arizona expert says COVID could lead to worsened migraines, headaches

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PHOENIX – More people are suffering from worsened migraines or severe headaches after overcoming COVID-19.

Dr. Kerry Knievel, director of the Jan & Tom Lewis Migraine Treatment Program at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, said the head pains could sometimes stick around for weeks and possibly even months.

Knievel explained experts are not sure why the head pains linger past the infection but said, “Inflammation is what we believe is playing a role in a lot of the effects of COVID in the lungs and also in the body. There’s inflammation in the nerves of the head that cause the pain.”

She adds this is because once the inflammation happens at the nerve, it may continue to be overly active for long periods of time.

To combat the head pain during a COVID-19 infection and get past it, Dr. Knievel recommends first trying to take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication like Tylenol or something similar.

If the pain is severe, debilitating or persists past a few weeks, it is best to seek medical help.

Knievel said doctors could provide other treatment options or recommend them to a headache specialist.

It is also important to seek medical attention after a few weeks of taking the medicine to ensure the headache is not a result of overuse.

“What can happen is the headache from COVID is actually going away, or has gone away, but now there is this secondary headache that comes from these other medications,” she said.

Dr. Knievel added some are concerned about getting the COVID-19 vaccine due to headaches that result from getting it, but she said the temporary side effect of headaches is better than the ones from dealing with the actual infection.

For more information on migraines and headaches visit the American Migraine Foundation or the Jan & Tom Lewis Migraine Treatment Program websites.

For Arizona vaccine information, visit azdhs.gov/findvaccine.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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