COVID-19 is a respiratory infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. More than 450 million confirmed cases have been reported worldwide, including more than 79 million cases in the United States.

Most people who develop COVID-19 experience mild symptoms that can be treated at home. Headaches and fevers are two of the most reported symptoms. Some people develop both, but many people develop one of these symptoms without the other.

Headaches are also one of the most reported long-haul COVID-19 symptoms. Although less common, some people also develop long-haul fevers.

Read on to learn more about the connection between headaches and fevers in people with COVID-19.

Headaches and fevers are two of the most common symptoms of COVID-19. It’s possible to develop a headache with or without a fever.

How common are headaches and fevers?

The reported prevalence of headaches and fevers vary between studies, and it’s possible that some COVID-19 variants cause some symptoms more often than others.

Studies have found that anywhere between 10 to 70 percent of people with COVID-19 develop headaches. About 25 percent of people experience migraine episodes, while 75 percent experience tension headaches.

In an April 2021 review of studies, researchers found that among 17,515 people with COVID-19, 79.43 percent of people developed fevers.

Early data shows that headaches are one of the five most reported symptoms of the Omicron variant.

Is there a connection between headaches and fevers?

It’s thought that an increase of pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines could contribute to the development of both fevers and headaches. Researchers are still trying to figure out if people who develop one of these symptoms are more likely to develop the other.

Most studies have found no connection between fevers and headaches in people with COVID-19.

In one study, researchers found that in a group of 172 people with COVID-19 who developed headaches, people who also developed a fever reported a significantly higher frequency and intensity of headaches.

A study published in The Journal of Headache and Pain found that headaches in a group of 576 people with COVID-19 were associated with:

  • fever
  • being female
  • body aches
  • loss of smell

Contrary to these findings, a December 2020 study found no connection between headaches and fevers among 112 healthcare professionals with confirmed COVID-19.

Likewise, in another study, researchers did not find a significant difference in the prevalence of fevers between people in the emergency room with or without ongoing COVID-19 headaches.

COVID-19 symptoms can appear 2 to 14 days after exposure and can range from mild to severe. They most commonly include:

Early research suggests the most common symptoms of the Omicron variant are:

  • runny nose
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • sneezing
  • sore throat

Headaches with or without a fever can be a long-haul symptom of COVID-19. More people seem to develop headaches as a long-haul symptom than fevers.

In an August 2021 review, researchers identified 55 long-term symptoms of COVID-19. They defined a long-term symptom as one persisting between 14 to 110 days after infection.

Among the people in the 15 studies included in the review, more than 80 percent developed at least one long-term symptom, the most common being:

Intermittent fever, or alternating periods of fever, was reported in 11 percent of people included in the review.

Some people have reported experiencing headaches for months after their infection. In a February 2022 study, researchers found that half of people experienced a headache for less than 2 weeks, but that 19 percent still had headaches at 3 months and 16 percent after 9 months.

Most people with COVID-19 can recover at home. If you have mild illness, you can recover at home and seek emergency medical attention if you develop emergency symptoms.

COVID-19 is highly contagious, so if you think you have COVID-19, it’s important to isolate from other people as much as possible. If you need to speak with a doctor, call the clinic ahead of time to let them know that you have or may have COVID-19.

It’s important to contact your doctor if you have lingering symptoms 4 weeks or more after having COVID-19 for proper evaluation.

Emergency symptoms

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends seeking emergency medical attention if you experience:

  • trouble breathing
  • persistent pain or pressure in your chest
  • newly developed confusion
  • an inability to wake or stay awake
  • signs of oxygen deprivation, such as blue, pale, or gray lips, skin, or, nails
  • any other concerning symptoms

Discoloration that suggests oxygen deprivation may be hard to spot in people with dark skin.

Headaches and fevers are two of the most common symptoms of COVID-19. Some people develop both symptoms, but it’s also possible to develop either one independently. Headaches seem to be a more common long-haul symptom than fevers.

If you suspect you have COVID-19, it’s important to isolate yourself from others. Most cases of COVID-19 can be treated at home with plenty of rest, but it’s important to seek immediate medical attention if you develop emergency symptoms, such as trouble breathing or chest pain.