Exertional headaches

For the last ten years I have suffered from headaches post-exercise. It started with high impact aerobics but as I scaled down my exertion, I started to get headaches after pump, yoga and walks. The obvious culprit was dehydration but drinking plenty didn’t seem to help. Now a stroll along the beach can trigger a headache. I have tried numerous alternative approaches, some structural like chiropracty and osteopathy, some like acupuncture and kineisiology and am seeing a second neurologist and have tried two different anti-convulsants. Years ago, I tried beta blockers which didn’t help. I have low blood pressure which doctors love but I think is somehow involved and I feel strongly that my blood vessels swell and it is this that causes the pain. I would really like to connect with others with the same trigger as I think I am getting more and more sensitized so it takes very little to trigger and the headache persists for much longer. I am 54 and post menopausal so there doesn’t appear to be a hormonal component. I love to exercise and as a trigger it is very frustrating as I can’t just give up like chocolate or alcohol. Any body resonate with any of this?

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  • Amylove
    3 years ago

    This story could have been written about me. Except I’m 47. I love working out and it took me a long time to realize that my workouts were triggering migraines. My theory has been that after the endorphin rush, I crash and am left with a migraine. No more cardio. I walk as fast and as long as I can. I hope you find an exercise program that works for you.

  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    3 years ago

    Paula54,
    I’m very impressed at how active you are! I try to as much as I can, but you got me beat. I can really understand your frustration. I’ve gone weeks with bad headaches and when I step into the gym again, it’s like starting all over.

    So my boyfriend had horrible exertion headaches years ago. He never had Migraines or bad headaches before that. He took about a month off from working out to try to reset his body and let it heal. Then he focused on breathing with his exercises. I’m sure you’re aware of breathing techniques since you do yoga, but it’s possible you’re holding in your breath while weight lifting. Who knows. I’m not an expert, just wanted to share what worked for him.

    Here are a couple of articles that may help you:

    https://migraine.com/headache-types/exertion-headaches/
    https://migraine.com/migraine-triggers/exercise-physical-activity/

    -Katie
    Migraine.com Moderator

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