This study showed that headaches are a common problem associated with PPE usage in healthcare workers in the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for those with pre-existing headache issues.
COVID-19 is causing many healthcare workers to wear PPE much more than usual. Researchers sought to examine the risk factors associated with the development of headaches associated with this as well as the impact of such headaches on health and work performance. This was a cross‐sectional study of 158 healthcare workers at one tertiary institution working in high‐risk hospital areas.
Participants were aged 21‐35 years and included nurses (64.6%), doctors (32.3%), and paramedical staff (3.2%). About a third of them had issues with headaches before this pandemic. Most (81.0%) respondents developed de novo PPE‐associated headaches. Both a pre‐existing primary headache diagnosis (OR 4.20) and PPE usage for >4 hours per day (OR 3.91) were independently associated with such headaches. The vast majority (91%) of respondents with a pre‐existing headache diagnosis said that the increased PPE usage had worsened their background headaches, which affected their level of work performance.