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headaches & dizziness after heavy exercise

I have done regular exercise for the last 20 years. However, lately I have been getting headaches along with dizziness after heavy cardio exercise, and they are becoming more common and increasing in intensity. After exercise, I will see bright spots in my eyes (if I close them), and headaches on the side and above my eyes. Furthermore I become very sensitive to light and my vision will get blurry.

I also feel dizziness and loses attention easily, but this seems to get better if I constantly eat something. Nowadays, I get this always after heavy exercise and occasionally at other times.

Does anyone know what is happening and perhaps some suggestions to make it better?
11 Responses
Avatar universal
   You are describing an "exertion-produced vascular headaches" its one type of  activity related headache where  the first large publication came from the Mayo Clinic in the early 1970s or late 1960s
   It occurs both in poorly conditioned persons who exercise infrequently and in trained athletes and most of the time has no underlying cause , so its called  "benign exertional headache"  (The majority of cases occur in people with migraine or a family history of migraine.)
      Generally, the headache occurs at the peak of exercise then goes away gradually as the activity stop. A more prolonged form is reported even though on some occasions it can last up to 2 days (may also or after the physical exertion)
      Heat, high humidity, exercise at high altitudes, caffeine, poor nutrition, hypoglycemia, and alcohol usage are contributing factors
    Not to scare you, but as far as I remember that ~one third of cases MAY show intracranial pathology, including primary brain tumor, metastatic disease, and subarachnoid hemorrhage, BUT your case does not sound like these ones .
       Also a condition called Pheochromocytoma  is occasionally a cause  

Very  rarely, exertional headache is a symptom of middle cerebral artery dissection (a tear  in a major vessel in the head).

In a summary , you will need an MRI (looking at the brain) and MRA (looking at the vessels).
   The treatement  starte by moderation of the excercise and/or Indomethacin

NOTE: "Cardiac cephalgia" is another entity were  rare patients with  coronary artery disease ( older people) may have exertional headaches that BEGIN  with vigorous exercise and are relieved by rest

Sorry English is my 3rd language , If some thing is not clear ask me but better if  in a new post , because I try to answer the ones as they come up on this site (Time issue only)

Avatar universal
Thanks Bob, your comments helped and will give me a good start in handling this problem!
Avatar universal

I have the exact same systems after vigorous exercise and the symptoms are becoming more frequent. Dizziness, blurred vision, headache, light sensitivity etc. DId you ascertain what was causing your symptoms and did the MRI show anything?

I have always exercised a lot, fit and eat well so I am not sure what is going on.

1093617 tn?1279305602
Thank you for your question. Although without being able to examine you I can not offer you the specific advice on diagnosis and treatment that you need, but I would try to provide you some relevant information about your health concern.

Generally, throbbing headache (mostly one sided) & orbital pain (eye pain & blurry vision) with dizziness symptoms could be suggestive of migraine. The mainstay of the migraine treatment is always to identify the triggering factors and to avoid them. Triggering factors could be excessive exercise, different foods such as cheese, chocolate, alcohol and even few fruits. Other factors that may induce your migraine attack may be stress or depression, bright lights, loud noise and traveling. I would suggest careful record of events that have proceeded with the attack and avoid those factors. In addition, try to rest in a dark & quiet room, meditate, have a balanced diet and avoid taking unnecessary drugs. Even then if you suffer continuous headache, please arrange an appointment with a neurologist right away who will evaluate the further underlying disorders by clinically examine you & ordering MRI or CT scan here that may be the main reasons of your migraine attacks and can provide you an appropriate treatment. Hope this information proves helpful to you. Take Care & Regards!!!

Avatar universal
I've had prolonged headaches for a while now (3+ weeks), what can be the cause of this? Any help would be greatly appreciated. I started getting them after I started exercising (P90x), after a long period of not exercising.
Avatar universal

About three weeks ago I experinced an exertion headake while doing weights, I had a CT scan and everything was clear, i still feel dizzy and get the pain whenever I do anything strenuous.

How long will this go on for and is there anything I can do to speed up recovery?

thanks in advance.
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