COVID long haulers facing new battle with persistent migraines

Many people already susceptible to migraines who have gotten COVID have since had flare ups and are having them on a regular basis.
Updated: Feb. 4, 2021 at 9:49 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Recovering from COVID-19 for some is like being in a heavyweight matchup. One second may feel like a high where a win is just around the corner, but the next second could feel like a knockout: motionless with a debilitating migraine.

WAVE 3 News anchor Lauren Jones was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Nov. 13, 2020 and said she knows what it feels like to be on the losing end of the fight. She has since become a long hauler and has shared her journey on social media.

Numerous doctors in Louisville are treating Jones as she continues her battle to beat the long-term effects of COVID-19. She said one of her biggest struggles is daily migraines.

Dr. Brian Plato is a leading neurologist at Norton Healthcare, and he’s treating Jones and other post-COVID patients.

He said he’s seeing two kinds of COVID patients right now: those suffering onset migraine symptoms post-COVID and those who have had migraines in the past but at a lower frequency.

Plato said many people already susceptible to migraines who have gotten COVID have since had flare ups and are having them on a regular basis.

The neurologist said typical patients suffer with migraines for four to 72 hours, while post-COVID patients are having migraines that last for days, weeks, and even months at a time.

He said persistent migraine patients for up to 3 months are diagnosed with “new daily persistent migraines.” It’s a term coined from COVID-19.

Plato predicted that with new mutations in the virus, studying migraines will become even more important than before. That’s because migraines are a key component in detecting COVID-19 in its earliest stages, even if other symptoms of the virus aren’t present.

He also stated that migraines are the only symptom present in patients when they are contagious, as well as months after they’ve tested positive.

Plato confirmed there are early studies that suggest there is a connection between loss of smell and recurring migraines in COVID patients, but scientists have yet to determine exactly why. Plato said he believes it could be a disruption, or irritation, of the cranial nerve involved in the progression of excessive migraines due to COVID-19.

He said the greatest difference between everyday migraine sufferers and post-COVID migraine sufferers is persistence and duration of symptoms. He said traditional medication may not work for long-term migraine sufferers.

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