Keeping the body active and getting involved in a regular exercise routine is recommended for migraineurs as part of their preventive therapy regimen. However, adhering to this recommendation sometimes creates a dilemma for the sufferer when exercising itself triggers severe pain in the head, a condition knows as exertion headache.
As its name suggests, an exertion headache occurs when a person exerts much effort, specifically when the effort involves tightening the muscles of the abdomen or increasing pressure in the chest. Majority of those who experience this kind of headache are those who engage in strenuous sports like weight lifters. Another name for exertion headache is exercise-induced headache.
During an intense physical activity, the temperature in the body rises and blood circulation also increases, resulting in the expansion of blood vessels. Experts believe that expanding vessels in the brain put pressure on the surrounding nerves and thus a headache ensues. It begins shortly after the activity and could last from just a few minutes to several hours. When the strenuous activity is continued, the headache becomes more painful and longer in duration. In some cases, the exertion headache progresses into a migraine that lasts for four to six hours. Usually, the pain starts at the back of the head and reduce in intensity after some hours. Other forms of migraine symptoms could arise as well.
When someone seeks treatment for an exertion headache, the doctor will usually order an MRI first to make sure that the headache is not caused by a more serious condition such as a blocked vein or a tumor in the brain. Once these are ruled out, medications are prescribed. Most of the medicines prescribed for migraine are also effective against an exertion headache. Taking non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs before an exercise session can significantly reduce the probability of an attack. Painkillers can relieve the discomfort arising from the headache
There are several ways to prevent or stop an exertion headache without the use of medications. Considering the side effects that can potentially arise from prolonged use of drugs, these measures should be the first line of defense that the sufferer must implement for his condition.
Exercise sessions must always start with a warm-up and end with a cool-down. Stretching the muscles not only prepares the body for the physical activity, it can also prevent soreness which could lead to headache. Beginners should take care not to go into very intense exercises right away, as the body needs to acclimatize itself. It should also be noted that a sudden change in the normal daily routine is one of the known triggers of migraine. During the exercise routine, it is also important to drink plenty of water to keep the body hydrated.
The benefits of staying physically active mean that an exercise routine should be made a part of one's lifestyle. Having a medical condition is not an excuse to stay out of it. With the combined help of medicines and preventive measures, being in the peak of health is achievable, regardless of whether one suffers from exertion headache or not.