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Does COVID-19 Vaccination Worsen Migraines?

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Research reveals that COVID-19 and its vaccine have little effect on migraine severity, contradicting some patients’ perceptions of worsened symptoms post-infection or vaccination.

New research says no.

A recent study published in the European Journal of Neurology has shown that both COVID-19 and its vaccinations have minimal impact on migraine severity. This conclusion was drawn from a study involving 550 adults who had sought treatment for migraines at a headache clinic in Spain. Of these, 44.9% (247 individuals) reported having contracted COVID-19 at least once, and 83.3% (458 individuals) had received vaccination. Among those who had COVID-19, 24.7% (61 patients) experienced a worsening of migraines, whereas 11.4% (52 patients) reported increased migraine severity post-vaccination.

In participants who perceived that their migraines worsened, those who had been infected were 2.5 times more likely to be concerned about migraine worsening and patients who had been vaccinated were 17.3 times more likely to have this concern.

Perceptions vs. Reality

When investigators examined patients’ e-diary information, they observed no significant difference in headache frequency one month before and after infection or vaccination, even when comparing patients with and without self-reported migraine worsening.

“In the case of COVID-19, we reported previously that indeed headache is a frequent and disabling symptom of the infection; yet, it may not necessarily be linked to an increase in migraine frequency,” the authors wrote. “In light of our results, we believe that clinicians should deliver to patients a more reassuring message that COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines may marginally affect migraine course and that probably the impact of the infection and vaccines is less than the individual rhythmicity to have attacks. This information may help minimize their worry.”

Reference: “Migraine worsening after COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccination: Are we facing a nocebo effect?” by Laura Melgarejo, Edoardo Caronna, Joana Rosell-Mirmi, Iker Elosua-Bayés, Alicia Alpuente, Marta Torres-Ferrus, Víctor J. Gallardo and Patricia Pozo-Rosich, 04 October 2023, European Journal of Neurology.
DOI: 10.1111/ene.16058

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