Weird post-COVID head sensations: is it a reason to worry?

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If you have just recovered from COVID-19, you might be suffering from strange sensations in your head. Read this article to get to know the meaning and potential risks of these sensations.

After patients recover from COVID, many of them report weird side effects — most often, headaches or strange sensations in the head. These might be deteriorating their quality of life or provoke stress. But coronavirus might not be the only possible reason for these sensations. From this article, you’ll get to know about diverse types of headaches and what health conditions they might be related to.

Which Odd Head Sensations Can You Get After COVID?

These sensations are highly individual and subjective. Yet they are very different from the casual headaches that you might be used to before the pandemic. Technically, you don’t even feel pain. Instead, patients characterize their sensations as follows.

  • A tingling, pins-and-needles sensation
  • Wave sensation
  • The feeling  that your head is full of cotton wool
  • Head pressure as if you’re underwater
  • Feeling like your head is in a clamp
  • Your head feels heavy, spacey or puffy

If you suffer from any of these symptoms, like many other post-COVID patients, it might indicate that you’re developing some other health condition. That’s why it’s important for you to know how to describe your headache to your doctor.

A Brief Classification of Pressure-Related Sensations and Pains

“Pressure” and “tightness” – these are the two terms that patients use most frequently when talking about their headaches. The duration and severity of these sensations might vary considerably from one person to another. When the pain is too intense, it might seem that every inch of your head is on fire – but that might be a mistake. You should learn to locate your pain properly because this will help your doctor to diagnose your condition correctly.

This table should help you detect the type of pain you’re experiencing depending on the exact location of head pressure.


  Tension headache Sinus headache Head injury Concussion Migraine Dental problem Ear problem
Entire head


  + +      
Either side of the head         + +




Top of the head


Neck or back of the head


  + +   +  
Eyes or eyebrows   +          
Cheeks or jaw


+       +  
Temples or ears


+       +



Why Can You Feel Pressure in Your Head?

The most common reasons for pressure include sinus headaches and tension — but these are not the only possible variants.

  • Sinus headaches. This type of headache can be described as the pressure in your forehead, ears, cheeks, nose and jaw. Because of allergies, colds and sinusitis (sinus infection), your sinuses get inflamed. You might complain of other symptoms as well, such as fever in case of flu.
  • Tension headaches. These headaches affect up to 40% of the world’s population and cause mild or moderate pain. You might also feel as though an invisible band is squeezing your head. This might be a result of fatigue, anxiety, poor posture or stress.
  • Ear problems. One of the simplest reasons for this issue is earwax blockage — and one of the most serious is a ruptured eardrum. You might feel a dull constant pressure in your ears, temples, jaws, or either side of the head.
  • Migraines. These are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. Modern science can’t explain why migraines appear, but it’s a well-known fact that they might be severe to the point of being disabling. They tend to recur, causing patients to come in for pain management repeatedly.
  • Head injuries or concussions. If you get into a car accident or any other situation that makes your head bounce, shake or twist, you should urgently see a doctor. If your head injury is caused by a sudden impact or whiplash, it’s vital to seek immediate attention.

Apart from the cases that were described above, the following conditions might also cause the sensation of pressure:

  • Hunger and dehydration
  • Medication side effects
  • Muscle strain in the neck
  • Infections
  • Hypertension (High blood pressure)
  • Stroke or ministroke
  • Brain aneurysm
  • Brain tumor

To get proper treatment, you need to visit a medical professional and gettested. Even though some of these conditions are rather serious, you shouldn’t panic. The sooner you start a treatment course, the quicker you should be able to get rid of the problem.

In Which Cases Should You Get fMRI?

This acronym stands for functional magnetic resonance imaging. It is a safe, painless and non-invasive method of measuring cognitive activity. It enables medical professionals to detect whether the patient’s brain is functioning as intended, is injured, or if the patient suffers from a disease.

The difference between the functional and standard MRI is as follows. The former detects anomalies in activity while the latter finds them in tissue structure. In other words, an MRI can show you how your brain tissues look and an fMRI specifies how these tissues function.

This method relies on monitoring blood flow to certain areas of the brain. In areas where neurons are active, the blood flow increases significantly. Before this technology was invented, medical professionals resorted to drug injections or invasive procedures to assess the condition of the brain and spinal cord. The fMRI has revolutionized brain mapping.

When a patient prepares for brain surgery, they undergo an fMRI scan to assess potential risks. This procedure enables their doctor to analyze those parts of the brain that are in charge of sensing, movement, speaking, planning and other crucial functions. Besides, this technology can determine the effects of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, tumors and stroke.

You might need an fMRI scan to make sure that pressure or tightness in your head is just a post-COVID side effect. But you shouldn’t make an appointment for a scan yourself. Only a qualified medical specialist should decide whether you need it.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this article came in handy and now you better understand what a simple headache might mean. It might be a COVID complication or a symptom of another medical condition. To avoid guesswork, you should consult your doctor.




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