LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It's one of the most common side effects of a COVID-19 diagnosis - a migraine that just won't quit. We're talking about a throbbing pain that can last 24/7 for some of our long-haulers, or patients who're still suffering months after their infection.
And neurologists say the treatment isn't working well.
A headache is just one of the symptoms of a migraine. There's also light and sound sensitivity, nausea, trouble concentrating, and dizziness - all of which impair the ability to work.
Dr. Brian Plato, a neurologist with Norton Neuroscience Institute said the current treatment includes anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids, and sometimes anti-seizure, anti-depressants or blood pressure medications. A year ago, he said anywhere from 50 to 75% of his migraine patients would have seen a significant improvement with these treatments. That's not the case today.
"Off the top of my head, 10 to 15% are getting significantly better, which is really frustrating, to be a physician who cares so much about improving quality of life for people, to be struggling to make that happen," Dr. Plato said
Plato said more than half of people who lost their sense of smell with COVID-19 have headaches or migraines as a related symptom. It's a direct effect of nerve damage that can make the months that follow more debilitating than the virus itself in some cases.
"Injured nerves don't recover nearly as quickly as perhaps the sense of smell, so this could be a problem that goes on for months, or I'm afraid to say, even years," Dr. Plato said.
Most neurologists are learning as they go, with new migraine medications on the market today, but with no real idea yet as to where they will lead.
If you suffer from persistent headaches or migraines, take this quiz to find out what type of treatment you may be missing.
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