Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Why Does My Head Hurt When I Exercise?

Thursday, 09 May 2013 10:07 AM

By Peter Hibberd, M.D.

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Question: I have an excruciating pain localized in the left side of my head every time I exert myself — swimming, running, lifting weights, during sex. It started a couple of weeks ago and it takes time for the pain to fade away. What could be the cause and how can I make the pain go away.

Dr. Hibberd’s answer:
 
Pain in the head from exertion always brings fears of an aneurism, an undiscovered brain tumor, or even a stroke. I have seen and treated patients who have had all three and would like to prevent others from waiting too long to be evaluated for the cause of such head pain.
 
Headaches with exertion must get immediate evaluation. Perhaps it is your blood pressure that is dangerously high. Perhaps you have an aneurism. It’s also possible a tumor is present. These are worst-case scenarios and I hope you don’t have any of these conditions. But an emergency evaluation may be life-saving and brain-saving for you.
 
If there is a ballooning of one of your blood vessels (aneurism), your treatment will be much simpler than if you wait until it bursts, and then you may be fighting for your life. I would rather control your blood pressure and prevent a stroke than have to place you on a ventilator and tell your family that we are worried you may not survive.
 
You are overdue to see your doctor, and clearly should avoid all exertion until you are evaluated by a physician or the emergency department of your local hospital.

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Dr. Hibberd's advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital work in emergency medicine and surgery.
 
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