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Triggers and Causes

Exertion headaches (maybe) that won't stop

  • By chasecotton27

    Hi I am 18 years old, just moved into college dorm, and I work out and play basketball regularly. I’ve never had problems with what I am presuming to be exertion headaches but on my first night on campus while bench pressing heavy weight, I was hit by an intense thunder clap headache in the back of my head that peaked in seconds and didn’t fade for several minutes only to fade down to a mild headache/pressure in the back of my head. I took some excedrin, drank some water, ate some food, and got a good nights sleep (which have been known to fix every headache I’ve ever had before) but I awoke with the same mild headache in the morning. Over the next week I continued to work out and play basketball experiencing more brutal thunder clap headaches and mild off and on headaches while I was just chilling and going to class. I also drank nearly a gallon of water a day and got plenty of sleep. I went to the ER a week after the first major headache and got a CT scan to check for a subarachnoid hemorrhage but it came back negative. The doctor pretty much had no explanation to my irregular headaches and said to take some days off and I did. For the most part I had no headaches just mild pressure in the back of my head while on my break. I returned to campus after a couple days and went to play a pickup game of basketball and got hit by another thunder clap headache on the first possession. So I guess my question is whether or not these are exertion headaches and how in the world am I to treat them??? I’ve been moderately prone to headaches all my life but some excedrin or a nights sleep would get them to go away every time, but not anymore. In addition, the rapid onset of these headaches are scary because that’s never happened to me before either. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks.

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi chasecotton27

    Thanks for sharing your story with us – we’re glad you’re here! Let’s see what I can do to help.

    Good to hear you were able to get this head pain checked out. It’s pretty typical to image scans to be normal with migraine disease. As much as I wish I could tell you what’s going on with your head. Only a qualified doctor can give you an accurate diagnosis after he goes over your symptoms, discusses your medical history and does a thorough exam. Did the ER doctor suggest you follow up with your doctor? If not I would encourage you to do so. You’ve mentioned being prone to “headaches” for most of your life – have you seen a doctor at any time. Here’s the thing; it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis, as I mentioned above, so we can learn all we can about our particular type of headache disorder and get the proper treatment. When you get a chance take a look at this information; https://migraine.com/migraine-diagnosis/.

    It sounds like there are significant changes in your life – starting college, moving into the dorms and so on. Stress, even positive stress can increase head pain for some of us. I have two articles that may be of interest to you;
    https://migraine.com/headache-types/exertion-headaches/ and https://migraine.com/migraine-triggers/exercise-physical-activity/.

    Let me know what you think,
    Nancy

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