New-onset headache following COVID-19: An Italian multicentre case series

J Neurol Sci. 2023 Mar 15:446:120591. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2023.120591. Epub 2023 Feb 16.


Objective: To describe the characteristics of patients with new-onset headache following SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Background: SARS-CoV-2 infection leads to several neurological manifestations, and headache is a frequent and disabling symptom, both exacerbating pre-existing headache syndromes and causing new-onset ones.

Methods: Patients with new-onset headache after SARS-CoV-2 infection with consent to participate were included, while those ones with previous headaches were excluded. The temporal latency of headache after infection, pain characteristics, and concomitant symptoms were analysed. Moreover, the efficacy of acute and preventive medications was explored.

Results: Eleven females (median age 37.0 [10.0-60.0] years old) were included. In most cases, headache onset occurred with the infection, the location of pain varied, and the quality was either pulsating or tightening. Headache was persistent and daily in 8 patients (72.7%), while it occurred in episodes in the remaining subjects. Baseline diagnoses were new daily persistent headache (36.4%), probable new daily persistent headache (36.4%), probable migraine (9.1%), and migraine-like headache secondary to COVID-19 (18.2%). Ten patients received one or more preventive treatments and six of them showed an improvement.

Conclusion: New-onset headache following COVID-19 is a heterogenous condition with uncertain pathogenesis. This type of headache can become persistent and severe, with a wide spectrum of manifestations (new daily persistent headache being the most represented one) and variable response to treatment.

Keywords: COVID-19; Headache trigger; Migraine; New daily persistent headache; New-onset headache; Tension-type headache.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • COVID-19* / complications
  • Child
  • Female
  • Headache
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders* / complications
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Young Adult