Does your head ache after carrying out any demanding physical activity such as pumping iron or playing tennis? You may be experiencing what’s called an exertion headache.

If it’s something that is bugging you often, continue reading. Below you will learn some of the most important things you need to know about it, from its common causes to preventing it from striking.

But before dismissing that it’s just exertion headaches that you are experiencing and nothing that could be serious, it is a good idea to let your doctor know about your frequent bouts of them.

Through some diagnostic tests or exams as well as your medical history, your doctor will try to rule out all other medical conditions that can also cause the same symptoms as an exertion headache.

Causes

Just like what its name suggests, an exertion headache is a type of headache that is triggered by you engaging in intense physical activities, such as most types of exercises.

Weight lifting, running long distances, swimming, scuba diving, playing volleyball — all of these and other forms of exercise can cause exertion headaches.

Even if you are not into exercising a lot, it’s still possible for you to end up facing an exertion headache. Cleaning the entire house, washing your car and even intense sexual activity can leave you with a bout of it.

According to experts, there are factors that can also contribute to exertion headaches. Some of them include dehydration, alcohol and caffeine intake, poor nutrition, low blood sugar and weather changes.

Symptoms

Exertion headaches tend to show up during or after an intense physical activity. Sometimes they can be so intense that you have no choice but to put whatever you are doing on hold.

Most of the time, a headache that is due to physical exertion appears in the back of the head. However, it’s not unlikely for the achiness to be felt in the temples, too.

When an exertion headache subsides, it’s not unlikely for another one of it to strike if you engage in another intense physical activity since the structures of the head are still sensitive due to the earlier attack.

By the way, doctors say that it is very much possible for exertion headaches to last for up to a couple of weeks, although most of the time it goes away after ceasing all physical activities.

Treatment

Due to the fact that an exertion headache is caused by intense physical activities, the very first thing that you need to do to deal with it is to quit whatever it is that you are doing.

If your exertion headache is the kind that stays around for a few days or even weeks, it’s a good idea for you to take a lot of rest. Make sure that you also stay hydrated as dehydration can contribute to the problem.

You may take an over-the-counter or OTC painkiller like ibuprofen to help manage exertion headaches, although it is still best to ask your doctor which painkiller is the right one of you to take.

Speaking of which, see to it that you pay your doctor a visit if you frequently suffer from what you believe to be exertion headaches so that other medical conditions with similar symptoms may be ruled out.

Prevention

Because engaging in intense physical activities is the number one cause of exertion headaches, it’s therefore important for you to avoid carrying out exercises or other tasks that can push you beyond your limit.

If you are not in the best physical shape and you want to start exercising regularly, make sure that you gradually increase the intensity. It is a good idea to consult a doctor when starting any exercise regimen.

Always drink plenty of fluids and limit your intake of alcohol and caffeinated drinks to keep exertion headaches at bay. It will also help a lot if you opt for a healthy eating habit.

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