Non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation may treat migraine in patients with COVID-19, says neurologist Stephen D. Silberstein, MD
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 13.6% of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 suffered from headaches, often described as moderate to severe, many of which “may look like a migraine attack. “. Not only is headache one of the signs of the COVID-19 virus, it is also recognized as a symptom that lasts long after the illness has ended. While there are no formal statistics on the clinical features of COVID-19-related headaches at this point in the pandemic, people are reporting migraine-like headaches. They describe a throbbing pain and / or pain-like pressure that is aggravated by routine movements such as bending over. They also experience sensory disturbances such as sensitivity to light or sound as well as nausea and recovery from these symptoms may take several days.
“Many patients with COVID-19 seek treatment for their headaches,” says Stephen D Silberstein, MD, director of the Jefferson Headache Center at Thomas Jefferson University. “Patients may be reluctant to start a prescription drug if over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen don’t help them. There is now a non-invasive therapeutic device, the gammaCore Sapphire, which not only treats migraines, but can also help prevent them. “
Studies on the symptoms of COVID-19 reveal that headaches are a major symptom for people infected with the virus. According to research on treatments for headaches linked to COVID-19, current treatment regimens include the off-label use of renin-angiotensin system (RAS) blockers. These drug therapies are not without concern for side effects, allergies, or possible interactions with other drugs, highlighting the benefits of a non-drug intervention.
gammaCore Sapphire ™ (nVNS) is the first non-invasive therapy to receive 510 (k) clearance for the treatment and prevention of migraine and cluster headache in adults. It is a small, hand-held device held at the neck to apply gentle electrical stimulation through the skin to the vagus nerve. gammaCore stimulates afferent fibers in the nerve which in turn activate several systems in the brain that can decrease or prevent migraine pain. GammaCore therapy can be easily self-administered at home without the side effects associated with commonly prescribed medications.
“With the rise of telemedicine and the lack of face-to-face medical visits for migraine, cluster headache and other complicated headaches, home therapies have become crucial for patients in managing painful and persistent symptoms,” adds Dr. Silberstein.
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