Experiencing headache symptoms while exercising can impair the quality of your workout, which can be very frustrating while you're trying to do something good for your body. Your symptoms may indicate a minor condition that you can take steps to avoid. They can also signal a more serious health issue that warrants a doctor visit.
If you have an exercise headache, you will experience the classic headache symptoms. You may feel the pain on both sides of your head as a throbbing sensation. The pain may be brief, lasting only several minutes. It also may linger, leaving you feeling drained and irritable for several hours after exercise. The pressure you feel is a symptom of other health conditions that may contribute to your discomfort.
It is essential to remain hydrated while working out. Dehydration can lead to serious health consequences without adequate water intake to meet your body's need for fluids. The effects of dehydration can be exacerbated under hot and humid conditions, leading to heat stroke. Headaches are a common symptom of heat stroke. The pressure in your head may worsen if your symptoms are also accompanied by a rapid heart beat. At this point, your body is fighting to lower its internal temperature by directing blood to veins and arteries closer to the the surface of your skin.
When to See the Doctor
If you have never before experienced pressure in your head while working out, you should see your doctor to rule out other factors that may be causes your headache. The causes range from benign ones such as a sinus infection to more serious health conditions such as a tumor or hemorrhage. You should take note of any other symptoms you are experiencing, such as nausea or double vision, to help your doctor diagnose your condition.
Prevention of course, is preferable to experiencing the discomfort of pressure in your head. You can begin by managing the factors you can control such as drinking plenty of fluids while exercising. To avoid symptoms caused by heat stroke, you should take your workout indoors on hot and humid days. You should also practice proper breathing technique when doing exercises such as weightlifting. Holding your breath can cause spikes in blood pressure which can lead to a stroke even in well-trained individuals, explains a 1995 study by Loma Linda University in California. With awareness and precautions, you can take the necessary steps to prevent future headaches during exercise.
Is This an Emergency?
- Mayo Clinic: Exercise Headaches - Symptoms
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Dehydration and Heat Stroke
- "Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation"; Influence of Breathing Technique on Arterial Blood Pressure during Heavy Weight Lifting; J. Narloch and M. Brandstater; May 1995
- National Headache Foundation: Exertional Headaches