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What causes migraines in athletes?

Expert:   Joshua Cohen, M.D., M.P.H. , St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center »

There's no denying athletes play hard. But can that extra effort be the cause of their migraines? Watch this to find out!

Transcript: Anyone can get a headache from exercise or exertion—but those normal pains in the neck due to strenuous activity are different from EXERCISE-INDUCED MIGRAINES, which strike BOTH people who don’t typically get headaches AND those who get migraines without exercising. Exercise-induced migraines may develop when the blood vessels in the brain begin to dilate due to the body’s demand for more oxygen. They may be aggravated by dehydration, heat, altitude and low blood sugar. When they hit, EXERCISE INDUCE migraines cause intense throbbing when they start and pain on both sides of the head. And for people who are predisposed to migraine, they may also TRIGGER symptoms associated with a regular migraine, including an aura, sensitivity to sound and light, and nausea. But you CAN control or even prevent effort migraines. First, consider taking an over-the-counter analgesic such as ibuprofen or aspirin BEFORE exercising. And DURING exercise stay well-hydrated and take regular breaks to let your body cool down. Your doctor could also prescribe a treatment such as sumatriptan. More »

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