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HeadWay, Issue #075 -- Exercise: Working for you or against you?
January 21, 2010
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In this month's issue:
Exercise: Is it working for you or against you?
Say what?! Endorphins
Special welcomeWelcome to the 75th issue of HeadWay! Since the summer of 2003, HeadWay has been tackling all kinds of topics related to headache, migraine and cluster headache. Today, HeadWay serves thousands of subscribers from around the world - patients, doctors, men, women - people of all kinds!
Oh, we've had a few unsubscribe as well - but I love it when they email me to say they're no longer suffering from headaches or migraine attacks!
All of HeadWay's back issues are available here. And remember, as subscribers you have special priority input regarding what appears on the websites Relieve-Migraine-Headache.com and HeadacheandMigraineNews.com, via the HeadWay MailRoom.
Thanks for your input and support over the past six and a half years - thanks for not putting up with headache and migraine, but fighting back!
Exercise: Is it working for you or against you?That's what I need - more exercise! So we resolve to start a new exercise plan, to walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, to buy a bike. But --- what's this? When I exercise, I actually get a headache! This isn't the way things were supposed to be!
Two things are very clear: (1) We need exercise. It's one of the best headache or migraine therapies out there. It will do incredible things to fight your symptoms, and promote overall health. (2) Exercise can cause headaches, trigger migraine attacks and seem to make things worse. And how can I exercise regularly when my symptoms make life so un-regular??
I use this phrase a lot, but it's time again - you're not alone. In fact, according the the Mayo Clinic, about 1% of people will experience an exercise headache sometime or other. This issue is incredibly common, and sometimes complex. Though we're not going to solve everyone's problems in one short article, I think we can take some major steps toward solving the problem.
The usual disclaimersAs I've said over and over, if you get a headache you've never had before, or your symptoms change, or the headache keeps getting worse, you need to see a doctor right away. This goes for exercise headaches too.
Your pain may be a secondary symptom to a serious underlying problem. Don't assume it's "normal". Exercise headaches can come from issues with blood vessels or bleeding in the head, tumours, infections, and other causes. It's possible that an exercise headache is the only symptom of heart disease (especially if you're over 50). Talk to your doctor first.
A bigger issue?Sometimes exercise headaches are called secondary exercise headaches (as above) or primary exercise headaches. Even primary headaches may be coming from a bigger issue that you need to deal with. For example, if you suffer from migraine disease, and also get attacks when you exercise, getting good migraine treatment overall will likely minimize your exercise headaches.
But while keeping those things in mind, let's see what we can do about the vicious circle that's keeping you from exercise.
A few tips for fighting exercise headache
Wait - I just wanted to take a pill!Yes, don't we all! But this shouldn't be the first thing you do, even if it does seem like the easiest. Every medication comes with some side effects, and taking medication when it's not needed can make the problem worse over time.
Still, the benefits of exercise are so great, that sometimes they outweigh the disadvantages of taking medication. If you've taken into consideration the suggestions above, and you're still having trouble, your doctor may recommend something.
If you're a migrainuer, your normal abortive medication may be suggested. Aspirin and ibuprofen are common drugs that are taken before or after exercise. Another anti-inflammatory that is sometimes recommended is indomethacin (ie Indocin, Indocid).
Ergotamine tartrate is also used for some patients. Propranolol (ie Inderal, Deralin), a beta-blocker, has also been used with some success.
Remember, however, that the medication will vary quite a bit from person to person. Make sure you've talked to a doctor who knows your medical history first.
Don't Give Up!It's been said that if you could put the benefits of exercise in a pill, it would be the best selling drug out there. There are incredible advantages to exercising - so don't give up. Keep trying to find a way. Even if you have to start very slowly ("I do one sit-up a day - when I get up in the morning, that's half..."). Keep track. Try doing a little more. Walk. Try a few stairs. You can make it happen!
To find out why exercise is so great, check out Headache and exercise.
More tips from dailySpark
Exercise headache at the Mayo Clinic
Say what?! EndorphinsEndorphins are natural hormones released in the brain. They're actually neurotransmitters. Endorphins are released during prolonged exercise, which has led to the term runner's high, because they are natural pain killers and they tend to improve your emotional state.
Some people with chronic pain also take DLPA as a supplement, which leads to more endorphins in the body. Read more about DLPA for pain here.
Thanks for reading! Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom. Your password is nomoache.
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