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Home :: Headache, Migraine Related to Exertion

Headache, Migraine Related to Exertion

An intense, incapacitating headache, accompanied by other symptoms, that occurs after all-out physical effort in various sports, such as running, football, basketball, boxing, wrestling or soccer. Migraines related to exertion are most common in persons with a family history of migraines.


Constriction, then dilation and inflammation of blood vessels that go to the scalp and brain. Vision disturbances occur when blood vessels narrow. Headache begins when they widen again. Attacks may be triggered by:

  • All-out physical activity, particularly in competitive sports.
  • Tension and stress.
  • Use of oral contraceptives.
  • Use of many prescription and non-prescription drugs.
  • Excess alcohol consumption.
  • Consumption of certain foods.
  • Fatigue.
  • Smoking.

Signs and symptoms

The nature of attacks varies between persons and from time to time in the same person. Symptoms of a classic migraine attack appear in the following sequence:

  • Inability to see clearly, followed by seeing bright spots and zigzag patterns. Visual disturbances may last several minutes or several hours, but they disappear once the headache begins.
  • Dull, boring pain in the temple that spreads to the entire side of the head. Pain becomes intense and throbbing. Sometimes the pain may affect both temples simultaneously.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

In other types of migraine attack, the above symptoms (vision disturbances, headache or vomiting) may be absent, or other symptoms may be present. Some persons become pale, with bloodshot eyes and a runny nose or eyes.


Migraine headache may be diagnosed by your doctor based on your symptoms, history of migraines in the family, and your response to treatment. Your doctor will take a detailed history to make sure that your headaches are not due to tension, sinus inflammation, or a more serious underlying brain disorder. During the physical exam, your doctor will probably not find anything wrong with you.

Sometimes an MRI or CT scan is obtained to rule out other causes of headache like sinus inflammation or a brain mass. In the case of a complicated migraine, an EEG may be needed to exclude seizures. Rarely, a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) might be performed.


There is no specific cure for migraine headaches. The goal is to prevent symptoms by avoiding or altering triggers. When you do get migraine symptoms, try to treat them right away. The headache may be less severe.

Medical Treatment

Doctor's examination and medication for persistent migraines.

Your doctor may prescribe:

  • Antihistamines to expand blood vessels.
  • Antiemetics to decrease nausea and vomiting.
  • Vasoconstrictors to narrow blood vessels.
  • Pain relievers.
  • Beta-adrenergic blockers to prevent attacks, if headaches are so frequent or severe that you can't function normally .This medication may have undesirable side effects and it does not help everyone.

Home Treatment

At the first sign of a migraine attack:

  • Apply a cold cloth or ice pack to your head, or splash your face with cold water.
  • Take pain relievers, such as aspirin or acetaminophen.
  • Lie down in a quiet, dark room for several hours. Relax if possible. Listen to music, sleep or meditate-but don't read.
  • Taking one aspirin a day may prevent migraine attacks in some adults. You may try it if you have no reasons to avoid aspirin.
  • Use of the drug propranolol prevents attacks in some persons, but may decrease successful athletic performance. It can cause unpleasant side effects, including depression and impotence.

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Disclaimer: website is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. Always take the advice of professional health care for specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment. We will not be liable for any complications, or other medical accidents arising from the use of any information on this web site. Please note that medical information is constantly changing. Therefore some information may be out of date.