Does it seem that your migraines are more frequent or worse and more difficult to bear since the pandemic began? That’s not just in your head. Doctors say they are now seeing many more complaints from migraine sufferers — often called “migrainers” — and for good reason.
“The current setting we’re in is certainly quite triggering for people who have migraines. People are worried and they’re getting more migraine headaches,” said Dr. Rachel Colman, director of the Low-Pressure Headache Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
In addition, “many of us have our work-home boundaries blurred right now,” said Dr. Merle Diamond, president and managing director of Chicago’s Diamond Headache Clinic.
“We’re working from home, and oftentimes that makes it harder to have an on-switch and an off-switch,” she said. The change in work can be triggering because “migrainers have very sensitized nervous systems that don’t like change.”
Nor are we getting up and moving, stretching, hydrating or sleeping as we should, which can all be significant triggers, Diamond said. She’s the daughter of Dr. Seymour Diamond, who was renowned for shattering common medical assumptions that migraines were psychosomatic, a sign of depression or just an excuse to avoid chores or work.
“Lack of activity makes migraine worse. Change of schedule makes migraine worse. Sleep has been impacted, which always makes migraine worse. And if you get dehydrated, that certainly doesn’t help,” Diamond said.
Is my headache Covid-19?
Of course, in today’s reality, the first thing that pops into any headache sufferer’s head is: Do I have Covid-19?
Longtime “migrainers” may know the difference, but what if you’re a newbie to the world of head pain? From what is known right now, Diamond said, a headache brought on by Covid-19 presents much differently than a migraine.
“You may have fever, you may have persistent coughing and all of those things can predict a headache,” said Diamond, who is a National Headache Foundation board member.
“However, the headache of Covid-19 is described as a really tight, sort of squeezing sensation, and typically worsens with coughing and fever,” she said.