Posted by: Sheldon | 2007/12/05

Headache after gym

I am not sure what this is so I am going to give as much info as possible.

I have been going to gym at 5 am for the past six weeks, and for the past two weeks I have been using creatine. On Monday morning I woke up had two apples, a creatine/ energy drink and 3 Alpha Nitrous tables before going to gym. When I got to gym I did four sets of inclined bench press and I was using heavier weights then usual. After each set I would sit up and I would have an intense pain at the base of my head, on the right side, and it got worse each set. On completing the 4th set the pain was unbearable and when I sat up my vision was blurred, I saw little stars floating around and I was dizzy. So after 10 min of training, I relaxed for a little while had a shower and went to work. When I got to work I just lay down in my office, laying the left side of my head on my padded laptop bag because the right side of my head hurt. Once traffic died down a little I when to my doctor. The doctor checked my peripheral vision, checked my eyes, checked the muscles that would connect to the base of my head on the right hand side and found nothing. The glands just under my arms were a bit swollen so my body is probably fighting of some infection but this was probably. The doctor advised that I took some headache tablets, stop using the Alpha Nitrous (it was the 1st time I had taken it)
I then slept for most of the day and I was surprised that I was able to sleep through the night. The next morning I did the same thing but I did not take the Alpha Nitrous, I spoke to a physical trainer, Jenny, whom I have known forever, she thought that it could be caused by my sugar level (it is slightly low) and it would explain the dizziness but not the headache. I then thought that I would simulate what I did the previous day and I had Jenny watch me to make sure that I was breathing properly and doing things correctly. The results were similar but I obviously stopped a much sooner! I was able to identify exactly were the pain was, I had a headache at the base of my skull (if I cup my right hand and place it on the base of my skull with my wrist touching ear that is were the headache was) and there was also some muscle pain (small muscle leading up form my neck, attaching itself to to the same part of my skull). After a neck massage, which was more painful then pleasant, the headache got worse before it got better.
Have you got any clue what this is and how I could stop it?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageHeadache expert

Dear Sheldon,

Jenny is correct about the sugar level – a drop in blood sugar can certainly trigger a headache or migraine – but the low blood sugar is just the trigger. Simply doing strenuous exercise can also trigger the problem, particularly if one has increased muscle tension in the muscles of the head and neck. This is a very strong possibility, but one can’t be certain without a proper examination. The important thing is to diagnose where the pain is coming from – what structure is hurting. To get to the root of the problem, you need what is called a “multidisciplinary assessment”. There are so many different structures in the head and neck, all of which can be involved in the headache process, that no single specialist can have all the knowledge necessary to make a comprehensive assessment and diagnosis. For instance, a neurologist will examine the brain and nervous system, a physiotherapist will look at the muscles, a dentist will examine the teeth etc. For this reason, the “multidisciplinary assessment” combines and integrates the expertise of different specialists who would normally treat headache patients in isolation, into a single more comprehensive body of knowledge. This assessment must include a thorough examination of the head and neck muscles to determine the presence of abnormal tension. This enables the different members of the team to provide a co-ordinated treatment plan, so that all the contributing factors are addressed.

Headache sufferers often have a poor Quality of Life due to the constant pain and associated symptoms. For a free assessment of how your headaches are affecting your Quality of Life, click on

This information has been supplied and checked by the multidisciplinary team of specialists at The Headache Clinic, in association with The International Headache Society and the South African Institute of Headache and Migraine Science. For consultation with these specialists, call The Headache Clinic (Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg) on 0861 678 911.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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