Having a headache after working out can be alarming. However, most cases have a benign underlying cause and disappear without the need for specific treatments. Often the symptom occurs after running, rowing, playing tennis or lifting weights. When to worry? What to do to cure it?
THE International classification of headaches 2018 recognized the existence of headaches due to exercise. They have been described as bilateral, stabbing pains, although they can also occur on only one side of the skull. In the following space we will tell you what their causes are, what to do to prevent them and when to seek emergency medical help.
Headache after training: why does it happen?
Exercise headache is also known as “exertional headache”. It not only occurs during sporting activities but under any circumstances of excessive physical exertion. Pain is classified as primary or secondary, depending on the underlying cause.
Primary headache due to physical exertion
We speak of primary headache due to physical exertion when the pain is throbbing, on one or both sides of the head. In addition to this manifestation, it is usually not accompanied by other symptoms. For now, the exact cause of this type of pain is unknown.
However, a theory exposes that strenuous physical activity causes blood vessels in the skull to dilate, leading to pain. However, it is considered benign and tends to improve within a short time with conventional pain relievers.
Secondary headache due to physical exertion
if the headache extends more than 48 hours after completing exercise, it is imperative to consult a doctor. Perhaps it will be accompanied by other signs such as vomiting, double vision, stiff neck and even loss of consciousness.
All this corresponds to secondary headaches straining, which may be caused by an undiagnosed medical problem, such as any of the following:
- Sinus infection (sinusitis).
- Structural abnormalities of the head, neck or spine.
- Presence of benign or cancerous tumors.
- intracerebral injuries.
- Heart rhythm disturbances.
- hypertensive peaks.
- Cerebral aneurysm.
As explained in a publication of the American corporation WebMdpeople are more susceptible to suffering from this type of pain when they have a family history of migraines (hereditary factor).
Likewise, the risks increase under the following conditions:
- dehydration: sweating during exercise causes fluid loss. If they are not replaced, the dehydration It can cause headache accompanied by excessive thirst, dizziness, fatigue, dry skin and constipation.
- Excessive sun exposure: Playing sports in the sun or in hot environments can lead to this disorder.
- High altitude exercise: sudden changes in altitude cause headaches during and after exercise. When the altitude is higher than usual, the oxygen supply is lower and headaches occur.
- Bad physical condition: making excessive physical effort without being fit is another risk factor. It is important to build stamina and strength before engaging in intense workouts.
- Low blood sugar levels: THE hypoglycemia it is also associated with headaches after exercise. Glucose is the body’s main source of energy. Therefore, when it decreases excessively, it leads to dizziness, blurred vision, disorientation, fatigue, headaches and excessive hunger.
How to prevent headaches after training?
Depending on the underlying cause of your headache, there are steps you can take to prevent it from occurring after exercise. Because the symptom is more common in hot, humid, or high altitude environments, the ideal is to avoid these environmental conditions during the practice of physical activity.
On the other hand, it is essential to ensure optimal hydration before, during and after exercise. Sweating causes the loss of fluids and mineral salts essential for bodily functions. If they don’t recover soon, the discomfort will not be long in coming.
Certain sports activities increase the risk of having this symptom. For example, weightlifting and marathons. If there is not sufficient physical preparation it is better to avoid the practice. Furthermore, it is essential warm up before any strenuous exercise.
Last but not least, you need to supplement your workout with a good diet. Proper nutrition prevents a sudden drop in blood glucose levels, so your muscles work smoothly.
When to see the doctor?
Often, taking conventional pain relievers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is enough to ease the headache associated with exercise. This, added to rehydration and rest, may be enough to control the symptom within a few hours.
However, there are cases that require professional intervention. See if you have one of the following:
- You’ve been doing the same exercise routine for a long time and the headache starts suddenly.
- the pain is strong and lasts for more than 48 hours.
- Here comes the headache accompanied by blurred vision, vomiting, heart rhythm disturbancesamong other warning signs.
- Headache it does not improve with conventional treatments.
What should you remember?
Experiencing a headache during or after exercise doesn’t usually signal a serious health problem. Most often it corresponds to primary headaches which tend to improve in a short time with rest and analgesics. However, you have to be alert to the presence of other symptoms.
When this condition recurs, there may be an underlying undiagnosed condition.. In these cases it is essential to consult the doctor to obtain a timely diagnosis and adequate treatment.
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