Exercise is a good thing for our bodies, which thrive on movement. However, sometimes exercise can cause problems if you overdo it or have an underlying health condition you may not know about. Here's what you need to know if you experience lightheadedness and tingling in the face after exercise.
Lightheadedness and tingling in the face after exercise can be the sign of a serious underlying medical condition, including dehydration, low blood sugar, a cranial hemorrhage or a pinched nerve.
Some of these conditions can cause severe, even fatal, complications if they are not remedied immediately.
Sometimes lightheadedness and tingling in the face after exercising are just due to the fact that your body is overworked.
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Indeed, overexertion during exercise can raise your body temperature to the point where it can't cool itself off fast enough, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Not breathing deeply enough during strenuous activity can also lead to a temporary lack of oxygen to the brain. Either way, the result is dizziness.
Luckily, it's an easy fix: Sit with your head down or lie down until your lightheadedness subsides.
Extended exercise can cause the body to become dehydrated. During intense exercise or hot-weather outdoor workouts, your body can lose a considerable amount of water through sweat.
When this occurs, blood and oxygen are sent to vital organs, and the extremities often don't get enough as a result. This can lead to a drop in blood pressure, causing dizziness and face numbness. You might also notice your throat is dry and your body ceases to produce sweat.
Fortunately, the fix is fairly straightforward: Drink water before, during and after you exercise to prevent dehydration and to keep your body functioning properly.
The rule of thumb is to drink 1/2 ounce of water per pound of body weight daily. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water each day. Divide this up throughout the day, concentrating on the time you exercise.
3. Low Blood Sugar
Not eating anything for hours before a workout can lead to lightheadedness and tingling during or after the exercise. You can avoid these feelings by eating a meal about three hours before your workout or eating a small snack an hour before exercise.
Eating a full meal right before an exercise session isn't recommended, however, because it can bring on cramping and sluggishness during the workout.
4. Smoking Cigarettes
Smoking tobacco has a strong effect on the blood vessels, reducing blood flow and sometimes causing tingling, numbness and pain in the extremities or in the face. Capillaries constrict during smoking and, after time, may not return to normal size.
This condition impedes blood flow and reduces oxygen to affected areas. When you exercise, increased blood flow may be limited to those parts of the body with damaged capillaries, the result being tingling or numbness.
5. Vascular Issues
Sometimes workouts, especially intense ones like as running, can cause vascular changes, which bring about tingling and numbness in the face and extremities. Exercise increases blood flow through veins, arteries and capillaries. When the blood vessels are unable to expand properly to handle the increased capacity, numbness or tingling may result.
If you have high blood pressure, it can influence how you respond to exercise. Many doctors recommend walking to help reduce blood pressure; however, if you develop symptoms like tingling, numbness or severe nosebleeds during exercise, stop and consult your doctor.
And if you know you're prone to these symptoms, avoid exercising outside in the cold, as the possibility of severe vascular effects increases when your blood vessels constrict and your blood flow is directed to your core to keep you warm.
6. Cerebral Hemorrhage
Exercise causes a temporary increase in blood pressure. If you have underlying cerebrovascular disease, this increase can cause blood vessels to burst in your brain.
Symptoms of cerebral hemorrhaging include lightheadedness, tingling and facial muscle weakness, according to the International Journal of Stroke. Trouble speaking and walking may also occur.
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical treatment.
7. Pinched Nerve
An awkward motion during exercise or increased blood pressure can lead to a pinched nerve. This pinched nerve can cause tingling in areas of the face, and facial muscle weakness can also occur, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Pinched nerves may resolve by themselves or through conservative therapy. In severe cases, a pinched nerve may require surgery.
8. Raynaud's Disease
Raynaud's disease or phenomenon is a disorder that affects the skin's blood supply. The skin's capillaries in the affected area go into spasm, according to the Handbook of Health and Rehabilitation Psychology. The bodily tissue experience a greatly reduced blood and oxygen supply, causing numbness, tingling and pain.
Generally, the hands, feet, ears, face and nose are affected. Weather conditions play a large role in Raynauds's disease, and attacks are more numerous and intense during cold weather. Symptoms appear similar to frostbite, with skin color changing to white and then dark blue.
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that affects the skin, blood vessels, joints and internal organs, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. People with scleroderma develop thickened hard patches on their skin with compromised blood flow.
In certain cases, Raynaud's phenomenon can accompany scleroderma, which is often one of the first signs of the disease. If you experience tingling and numbness in your face, nose, hands or feet after exercise that doesn't go away, see your doctor to rule out scleroderma and other related conditions.
- Mayo Clinic: "Eating and Exercise: 5 Tips to Maximize Your Workouts"
- A. C. Guyton and J. Hall: "Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology"
- Dennis Kasper, et al.: "Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine"
- International Journal of Stroke: "Stroke education: discrepancies among factors influencing prehospital delay and stroke knowledge"
- Mayo Clinic: "Pinched Nerve"
- Handbook of Health and Rehabilitation Psychology: "Raynaud’s Disease and Phenomenon"
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Types of Scleroderma"
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Exercise-Related Heat Exhaustion"
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.