Headache after exercise

Dear Lucy: Sometimes after strenuous exercise, I get a headache that lasts for hours. I feel like I’m drinking enough before, during, and after exercise, so I can’t figure out what might be causing these headaches. It takes three to four ibuprofen every few hours for the headache to subside. I don’t want to give up exercising. What can I do about this? —Exercising Caution

Dear Cautious: Lucy doesn’t want you to give up exercising either! So, in hopes of finding a solution to your dilemma, Lucy reached out to Jessica Senesi, a nurse practitioner and primary care provider here at MIT Medical. 
You might be relieved to know that, according to Senesi, you’re not the first person to complain of this problem. And, she says, treatment is usually aimed at trying to avoid a headache in the first place. “Preventive treatment may involve taking 400–600 mg. of ibuprofen 30 to 60 minutes before exercise,” she explains. 
“We often prescribe a medication in the same family as ibuprofen, called indomethacin, for this purpose,” she adds, “so this might be something to discuss with your primary care provider.”
Your symptoms are something you should discuss with a clinician in any case, Senesi says. “This type of headache is sometimes an indication of a more serious underlying condition,” she notes. “Your healthcare provider might recommend imaging, such as an MRI scan of your brain, just to rule out anything more serious.
Lucy is confident that you and your healthcare provider can come up with a solution that works for you. Here’s to good health and hearty, clear-headed exercise! —Lucy

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