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Why Do I Get Migraines When I Work Out

Implications For Populational Healthconclusions And Recommendations

Why Do I Get Headaches When Lift Weights?

To sum up, the high prevalence of migraine , as well as the important associated socioeconomic burden for patients and societies in general , emphasizes the unmet need of novel therapeutic options to improve the efficacy and populational coverage of migraine prophylaxis.

Increasing numbers of comorbidities, such as depression, anxiety and obesity have been associated with migraine. Thus, non-pharmacological treatments become even more evident to avoid polypharmacy or drug interactions. Moreover, there are also patients in whom migraine attacks are refractory to pharmacological treatment . Regular exercise has been proposed as a possible therapeutic option for migraine. Advantages are that it is available to most people with migraine, also in low-and-middle-income countries, with low physician coverage, that it costs nothing or very little, and that it has general health benefits and should be performed by everyone.

What Is An Exercise Headache

An exercise headache can occur during or after a strenuous workout, such as rowing, running, swimming, tennis, or weightlifting.

There are two degrees of exercise headaches: primary, which are less serious, and secondary, which are connected to more serious issues.

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Primary headaches affect both sides of your head in many cases and are characterized as throbbing headaches. These headaches can last between five minutes and 48 hours.

Secondary headaches have similar symptoms as primary headaches but may also include double vision, loss of consciousness, a rigid neck, and vomiting. These headaches can last at least a day and can linger for several days or more.

Keep Your Manager Informed

Migraine is a fluctuating and episodic condition and its impact on you at work may vary. Keeping your employer informed of any relevant changes to your condition or treatment can help them to provide you with the necessary support that you need. Your doctor and Occupational Health can support you in this process. You may also want to provide your employer with The Migraine Trusts website and information resources to help debunk any misconceptions or confusion about the condition.

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Migraine With Aura Symptoms

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Contents

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  • Video Transcript

    And it often will start little. Just almost like a little flickering or almost kaleidoscopic, and then it will build up and grow. And what some people think is something is wrong with their eye, but really its happening in the brain, and if they cover the eye that they think has it, they can still see the little zig-zaggy lines or spots on the page in the other eye.

    So we know that its coming from the brain. We know also, or we think we know, that it is triggered by cortical spreading depression. When theyve done experiments looking at the brain and the slow waves that travel in the brain, the speed with which that slow wave travels corresponds a lot with the aura and scientists have figured that out.

    The aura frequently will come before the headache and then the person will have a headache. Sometimes its on the opposite side to the visual symptoms, sometimes its on both sides, and then the headache can be indiscernible from a migraine without aura. But an aura is a discreet neurologic event, usually visual.

    There are other types of auras, such as dizziness or vertigo auras, or numbness around the face and hand followed by a headache, but the visual aura is the most common.

    Peripheral movement in the visual field will sometimes even trigger a migraine. Bright lights could trigger a migraine. People with migraine, in general, are very visually sensitive people.

    How Do You Know If Your Headache Is Benign Or More Serious

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    While primary exertion headaches are frustrating, theyâre totally normal and nothing to seriously worry about. A second type of headache associated with physical activity called a secondary exertional headache, however, is a more serious issue, Dr. Bain warns.

    Secondary exertion headaches are typically indicative of a larger problem, like meningitis or a brain tumor, Dr. Bain explains. For example, exercise increases your blood pressure and heart rate, making a blood vessel rupture more likely if youâre already in a compromised health condition. In rare cases, exercise-related headaches can also be an unusual sign of heart artery blockages. While rare, these headaches require immediate medical attention.

    It can be tricky to differentiate between a primary exertion headache that is essentially innocuous and a secondary exertion headache that can be potentially life-threatening, so Dr. Bain broke down the symptoms of each.

    Primary exercise headaches often have a throbbing sensation, are felt on both sides of the head, occur during or after strenuous exercise, and generally, last anywhere from five minutes to 48 hours.

    Secondary exercise headaches can mimic symptoms of primary exercise-related headaches, but often include more drastic symptoms like nausea and vomiting, loss of consciousness, double vision, and severe neck stiffness. They can also last multiple daysâtipping you off that something might be seriously wrong.

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    What Should You Do If You Suspect Your Workouts Causing Migraines

    If you notice headaches consistently with one type of exercise, Dr. Bain recommends switching to another type of workout. For example, if youâve been exerting bursts of energy with a strenuous exercise regime, it might be time to try a low-impact workout, like swimming or yoga, or aerobic exercise like running or cycling.

    As you know, exercise boasts countless benefits that are essential to our well-being. Physical activity releases the bodyâs natural feel-good hormones , minimizes the frequency and intensity of pain, reduces stress, and in many cases, improves sleep.

    Itâs possible that one or two specific types of exercise are precipitating your headaches. So if you do experience exertion headaches, Dr. Bain encourages individuals to use trial-and-errorâand the guidance of a medical professional!âto find the workout that works for you.

    The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

    Treatment Options For Cardiac Cephalalgia

    Its important to identify cardiac cephalalgia so the underlying heart disease can be managed. It also means that migraine specific treatments such as triptans can be avoided.

    • An electrocardiogram is an important first step in the diagnosis.
    • Your GP may discuss managing risk factors of heart disease such as smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure. You would need to be referred to a cardiologist for further investigations of the heart, which may include an exercise ECG or echocardiogram. A cardiologist may recommend an angiography.
    • Treatment of the underlying heart condition resolves this headache syndrome.

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    How To Prevent It

    Drink fluids before and during exercise. For some, slowly warming up before exercising can help to prevent exertional headaches. In other cases, reducing the intensity of the workout also helps to prevent them.

    But if these dont help, or reducing intensity isnt an option, take indomethacin or prescription-strength naproxen. Youll need a prescription from a doctor for these. Both can cause stomach irritation in some people. If youre unable to take them, your doctor might suggest trying beta-blockers.

    Dehydration happens when your body loses more fluid than it takes in. Chances are, you sweat when you exercise. This counts as fluid loss. If you dont drink enough water before exercising, its easy to become dehydrated.

    A headache is often the first sign of dehydration. Other symptoms of mild dehydration include:

    • heightened sense of thirst

    Severe dehydration is a medical emergency. If you begin experiencing these symptoms, seek immediate treatment.

    Warm Up And Cool Down

    Headaches after workouts??

    Jumping right into your routine without warming up first could trigger a migraine, Gaz says. Instead, try taking a five-minute walk before you start running, jogging, or cycling. If youre doing resistance training, try warming up with some light weights first, Gaz says.

    After your workout, take a five-minute walk or do gentle stretches to help lower your heart rate and blood pressure. This also can help eliminate some of the post-exercise muscle soreness that comes with resistance training, he says.

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    Symptoms Of Primary Exercise Headache

    Primary exercise headache is a rare headache that is distinct from exercise induced migraine. Many people with this condition also have migraine.

    This headache can occur with many different exercises or sports.

    • The headache can start during the exercise or within 30 minutes of stopping the exercise. The headache starts suddenly and can last between minutes to usually less than a day. The headache can be on one or both sides of the head and is most often a pulsating headache but can be aching, pounding or throbbing.
    • The headache may be accompanied with nausea with or without vomiting , and increased sensitivity to light and/or sound.
    • Factors such as exercising in heat, high humidity, high altitude, poor nutrition, caffeine use and alcohol use are believed to increase the risk of experiencing these headaches when exercising.

    You’re Forgetting To Breathe

    “Everyone takes breathing for granted because it’s an automatic process,” says Dr. Morrison. “If your isn’t synchronized with what you’re doing, you might not be letting enough oxygen in and carbon dioxide out,” which can cause sudden dizziness. You may be holding your breath during isometric moves or breathing heavily through your mouth during drills and sprints. Check out this ultimate guide for breathing properly during your workout.

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      Exercise Tips For People With Migraine

      Exercise may help reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks. Heres how to exercise safely if you have migraine.

      If you have migraine, you may have heard conflicting opinions about whether exercise will make your symptoms worse.

      Exercise can have a bad reputation in the migraine community thats largely undeserved, says Dale Bond, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the Miriam Hospital and Brown Alpert Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island.

      Vigorous exercise might be a trigger in a small subset of people with migraine, but overall the benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risk for people with migraine, Dr. Bond says.

      Regular exercise is associated with a reduction in the frequency and intensity of migraines, says Jennifer Kriegler, MD, a neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

      A good rule of thumb: Dont exercise if youre in the middle of a migraine attack, as it can make the pain worse, Dr. Kriegler says. When youre pain-free, on the other hand, exercising can help ward off attacks by relieving stress, a common migraine trigger.

      Exercise also stimulates the release of feel-good hormones called endorphins and enkephalins, our bodys natural painkillers and natural antidepressants, respectively, according to Daniel V. Gaz, a certified exercise physiologist and the program manager of research operations at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

      Want to add exercise to your daily routine? Heres how to do it safely.

      Exercise Can Prevent Migraines But Don’t Work Out If You Have One Experts Say

      Why Do I Get A Headache After Workouts?

      If you’ve experienced a migraine, you know it can be downright debilitating. But you might be wondering if it’s a good idea to hit the gym or turn on your favorite YouTube workout video when your symptoms strike. After all, no pain, no gain, right? Wrong. Two experts warn against exercising during a migraine, but they agree that exercise can help prevent migraines in the long run.

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      Use Correct Posture When Exercising

      Using the wrong form while you exercise can place extra stress on your head, neck, and shoulders, which can trigger a migraine, Kriegler says. An exercise specialist can help correct your form, Gaz says. You can also get tips from online exercise videos.

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      What Can You Do To Treat It

      While secondary headaches warrant a trip to the doctor, primary exercise-induced headaches are usually self-resolving. But if you’re dealing with headaches, after ruling out any illnesses, Dr. Danan says taking an anti-inflammatorywhether it’s over-the-counter or prescription30 minutes before your workout could help decrease the risk.

      If you’re going for an over-the-counter drug, try something anti-steroidal such as Advil or Aleve, rather than Tylenol, says Dr. Danan. And when it comes to prescription-grade anti-inflammatories, he says one called indomethacin is especially effective in treating headaches.

      However, if you work out most days , its worth considering environmental causes and monitoring the weather rather than taking Advil daily. For example, if you’re a sprinter who just moved from a flat area to a more mountainous one, altitude might be the cause. Or, if you run at high noon, the sun might be causing speedier dehydration, and more water could be the solution.

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      Your Key To Avoiding Headaches After Exercise

      Exercise is essential for staying healthy throughout your life. However, sometimes it can cause pain and discomfort, including headaches. These types of headaches are called exertional headaches and are usually a throbbing pain on both sides of your head instead of sharp pain in one area.

      Prevent exertional headaches by making a few changes before, during and after your work out.

      If You Have Migraines Put Down Your Coffee And Read This

      Headaches with Running or Working Out – What’s Causing it?

      During medical school, a neurologist taught me that the number one cause of headaches in the US was coffee.

      That was news to me! But it made more sense when he clarified that he meant lack of coffee. His point was that for people who regularly drink coffee, missing an early morning cup, or even just having your first cup later than usual, can trigger a caffeine withdrawal headache. And considering how many daily coffee drinkers there are , its likely that coffee withdrawal is among the most common causes of headaches.

      Later in my neurology rotation, I learned that caffeine is a major ingredient in many headache remedies, from over-the-counter medicines such as Excedrin and Anacin, to powerful prescription treatments such as Fioricet. The caffeine is supposed to make the other drugs in these combination remedies work better and, of course, it might be quite effective for caffeine-withdrawal headaches.

      But then I learned that for people with migraine headaches, certain drugs, foods, and drinks should be avoided, as they can trigger migraines. At the top of this list? Coffee.

      So, to review: the caffeine in coffee, tea, and other foods or drinks can help prevent a headache, treat a headache, and also trigger a headache. How can this be?

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      Associations Between Physical Exercise And Migraineepidemiological Evidence

      Various large population-based studies have concluded that low physical activity levels are associated with higher prevalence and frequency of migraine and other headaches . Vice versa, higher physical activity levels are associated with reductions in migraine headache frequency and and with less migraine-related disability .

      The study by Varkey et al. , using individuals from one of the worldâs largest epidemiological studies, the Nord-Trøndelag Health Survey , was divided in two parts, using a prospective and a cross sectional design. In the first part of the study a total of 22,397 participants, characterized as headache-free and analgesic drug-free, answered a questionnaire on exercise. Eleven years later the participants answered a questionnaire on physical activity and headache. Physically active individuals reported less non-migraine headaches than physically inactive individuals. A total of 46,648 participants were included in the cross-sectional part of the study. Migraine as well as non-migraine headache was more prevalent in groups reporting low physical activity .

      Hagen et al. , found a lower mean peak oxygen uptake among patients with migraine and tension-type headache than those who were headache-free. An increase of VO2-peak but not migraine frequency was reported after a 12-week intervention with regular exercise .

      Correct Your Workout Form

      Exertion headaches can also be brought on by small mistakes youre making during your workout, Steven Coppolecchia, physical therapist at Spear Physical Therapy in New York, tells Health. A lot of timesin particular with lifting but you’ll see it with running as wellpeople sit with the head sitting far too forward or an arched back,” says Coppolecchia. “I work with patients to correct their posture and that’s going to improve blood flow up to the brain and also reduce some of the muscle tension.”

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      Do You Have To Stop Exercising Altogether

      I just spent thousands of dollars on a bike that goes nowhere. I love that bike that goes nowhere. I really dont want to give it up, nor do I want to stop exercising. I spoke with Carolyn Zyloney, a headache specialist and neurologist at Unity Rehabilitation and Neurology at Ridgeway , who explained the type of exercise leading to these migraines varies from person to person. But, she says, its usually brought on by and occurring only during or after strenuous physical exercise. People do not necessarily need to stop exercising entirely, but may modify their workouts to reduce the risk of a recurrent headache, Zyloney says. For example, they may reduce the intensity of their workout.

      Thats no fun, though. I love spinning, and the intensity is what gives me the exercise highalong with the headache. I want one without the other. Sometimes, Zyloney says, I will prescribe a medication such as Propranolol or Indomethacin to take prior to exercise to reduce risk of an exertional headache.

      How Can I Prevent A Headache After Exercise

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      The best way to prevent exercise-induced headaches is to avoid the activity that triggers them.

      But if thats not realistic, you can try different strategies to lower the chances. For example:

      • Avoid activity in extreme temperatures, too hot or too cold.
      • Dont work out in altitudes youre not used to.
      • Drink plenty of water so you are well-hydrated.
      • Get enough rest every day, including eight hours of sleep.
      • Mix up your exercise routine. Try another type of activity and see if it triggers a headache.
      • Warm up and cool down properly, and build intensity slowly over time.
      • Wear sunglasses if its bright outside and moisture-wicking clothes if its hot.
      • Eat a healthy diet, and avoid processed foods or foods with preservatives in them.

      Some studies suggest that certain supplements can help prevent exertional headaches, such as:

      • Boswellia .

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