Headaches Caused by Sports Injuries- Exercise headaches are defined by the Mayo Clinic as any time of head pain which occurs during or after an arduous workout, such as running, tennis, rowing, swimming and weightlifting. Exercise headaches are divided into two classes:
Primary exercise headaches can be treated easily with over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription pain medicines and basic first aid. They are not life threatening or dangerous.
Secondary exercise headaches signal an underlying health condition which requires emergency medical attention. Examples of secondary headaches are pain which is caused by a brain aneurysm or clogged arteries.
Below is a list of 5 types of exercise headaches which are common for many athletes:
Footballer’s migraine, or what Americans might call “soccer-ball migraine” has been in the news lately when Aussie football star Derrick Barnes suffered dizziness and head pain after a match against the Sharks. Footballer’s migraine is caused by repeated blows to the head, and is similar to the trauma experienced by heavyweight boxers. Symptoms of footballer’s headache include visual distortions, dizziness, head pain and loss of consciousness.
2) Swim Goggle Headache
Swimmer’s headache is caused by the wearing of tightly-fitted swim goggles. Frequent swimmers often tighten their goggle straps in order to see clearer underwater and reduce eye irritation caused by seeping water. However, many complain about severe headaches a few hours after swimming. Neurologists have noted a decrease in migraine headache symptoms when goggle usage was discontinued. Swimmers are advised to wear goggles with soft rubber or plastic linings, adjust straps to a comfortable fitting and removing the goggles from time to time during a swim practice.
3) Divers Headache
Diver’s headache is caused by hypercapnia, a condition which occurs when there is increased carbon dioxide (CO2) in the brain. Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often experience hypercapnia caused by narrowing of the airways. Similarly, some scuba divers are known to experience diver’s headache caused by hypercapnia, resulting from increased air pressure, breathing difficulties and insufficient release of CO2.
4) High Altitude Headache
High altitude headache is possibly linked to “mountain sickness,” and is often experienced by mountain trekkers. High altitude sickness can occur from 2500 meters above sea level; aside from migraines, other symptoms of high altitude sickness include nausea, loss of appetite and sleep difficulties. High altitude migraines are usually caused by overexertion above sea level, so experts recommend hiking slowly, taking breaks and focusing on breathing in and out.
A benign exertional headache is most often linked with weightlifting and running, but may also result from frequent coughing and sneezing, sexual intercourse, and strenuous bowel movements. Even benign exertional headaches can indicate a brain disorder, so physicians will recommend an MRI and an MRA in order to rule out any life-threatening health issues. People who experience benign exertional headaches often share a family history of migraines.
For more information about treating and preventing migraines, read: