A sudden headache over one of your eyes during exercise can prevent you from continuing your workout. The pain can last anywhere from just a few minutes to several days. Because such headaches can be so painful that they dissuade you from future exercise, it is important to understand what causes exercise-induced headaches and how they can be remedied and prevented.
A headache that develops over one eye during exercise can vary in severity, ranging from a dull ache to a debilitating pain that halts all activity. The area of the headache can also include the front or one or both sides of the head. Exercise-induced headaches can be accompanied by many additional symptoms, including throbbing, nausea, sensitivity to light, neck rigidity, loss of consciousness and vomiting.
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An exercise-induced headache develops during strenuous exercise. The blood vessels in the head or brain become inflamed and bring on the headache. The nerves inside the head stretch, causing head pain. A headache that develops during exercise can also be caused by an underlying condition such as a sinus infection, a tumor, blood vessel abnormalities or bleeding in the brain or the membranes covering the brain.
Stop exercising if you develop a headache in or around one eye during your workout routine. Lie down in a quiet area with your eyes closed. Apply a heat pack to the back of your neck and massage the area above your eye. Take an over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin. If the headache will not go away, or worsens despite treatment, call your doctor. He can check for an underlying condition or prescribe stronger medication.
Regular exercise can actually help reduce and prevent exercise-induced headaches. This is because cardiovascular exercise releases endorphins and improves the brain's blood flow to minimize inflammation of the blood vessels in the head. To maximize the flow of oxygen to your muscles and brain, concentrate on proper breathing during exercise. If you find yourself grunting or gasping, bring down the intensity. Focusing on breathing will help keep you from overexertion, which can trigger exercise-induced headaches.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.