Objectives: To assess the frequency and characteristics of headache in patients with COVID-19 and whether there is an association between headache and anosmia and ageusia.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study. Consecutive patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19, confirmed by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) technique, were assessed by neurologists.
Results: Seventy-three patients were included in the study, 63% were male; the median age was 58 years (IQR: 47-66). Forty-seven patients (64.4%) reported headaches, which had most frequently begun on the first day of symptoms, were bilateral (94%), presenting severe intensity (53%) and a migraine phenotype (51%). Twelve patients (16.4%) presented with headache triggered by coughing. Eleven (15%) patients reported a continuous headache. Twenty-eight patients (38.4%) presented with anosmia and 29 (39.7%) with ageusia. Patients who reported hyposmia/anosmia and/or hypogeusia/ageusia experienced headache more frequently than those without these symptoms (OR: 5.39; 95% CI:1.66-17.45; logistic regression). Patients with anosmia and ageusia presented headache associated with phonophobia more often compared to those with headache without these complaints (Chi-square test; p < 0.05). Headache associated with COVID-19 presented a migraine phenotype more frequently in those experiencing previous migraine (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: Headaches associated with COVID-19 are frequent, are generally severe, diffuse, present a migraine phenotype and are associated with anosmia and ageusia.
Keywords: COVID-19; Headache; SARS-CoV-2; ageusia; anosmia; olfaction disorders.