Exercise Headaches

Exercise Headaches

As known by the name Exercise headaches happens during or after heavy strenuous exercises. Activities associated with exercise headaches are running, rowing, tennis, swimming, or weightlifting. Scientists divide exercise headaches into 2 categories. Primary exercise headaches are not harmful. These headaches are not associated with any underlying problem and can be prevented with medication. 

Secondary exercise headaches are caused by a serious underlying problem in the brain like bleeding or a tumor. The problem can be outside the brain like coronary artery disease. Secondary exercise headaches require emergency medical treatment.


Primary exercise headaches

This type of headaches are:headache SYMPTOMS CAUSES TREATMENT

  • Defined as throbbing
  • Happens during or after heavy exercise
  • These headaches affect both sides of the head in most cases

Secondary exercise headaches

These headaches shows:

  • The same symptoms as primary exercise headaches
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seeing double vision 
  • Neck rigidity and stiffness.

Primary exercise headaches last between five minutes to 48 hours, while secondary exercise headaches last at least a day and sometimes longer for several days. 


Primary exercise headaches

The cause of primary exercise headaches is unclear. A study states that it happens because of strenuous exercise, that dilates blood vessels inside the skull. 

Secondary exercise headaches

Secondary exercise headaches are usually caused by a hidden underlying problem. It includes:

  • Bleeding in between the area of the brain and the membranes covering the brain. 
  • Abnormalities in a blood vessel within the brain
  • Tumors, either cancerous or noncancerous.
  • Obstruction in the flow of cerebrospinal fluid
  • Sinus infection
  • There are structural abnormalities in the head, region, neck, or spine.

If there is no underlying structural or vascular problem found that is causing the exercise headaches, the doctor may recommend medications to take regularly to help in preventing the headaches.

  • Indomethacin (Indocin, Tivorbex) is an anti-inflammatory drug and is commonly prescribed.
  • Propranolol (Inderal, Innopran XL) is a blood pressure medicine and is also used to prevent exercise headaches. 

Other preventive therapies, include 

  • Naproxen (Naprosyn), 
  • Phenelzine (Nardil), 
  • Ergonovine 

These alternative drugs are reported to be effective in some people.

If exercise headaches are predictable in a person then he or she might take a medication an hour or two before the event. For example, a tennis match at high altitude. If exercise headaches are frequent or unpredictable, the person needed to take preventive medicine every day.

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