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Dr. Rick, MD
Dr. Rick, MD, Board Certified MD
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 11313
Experience:  20+ years as a doctor. Internal Medicine Internship in NYC
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I get very bad, debilitating headaches the day after skiing;

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I get very bad, debilitating headaches the day after skiing; they usually come on in the afternoon and are severe by late afternoon and evening. The only cure I've found once they start is to go to bed and hope that it is gone in the morning. I originally thought they were due to dehydration and maybe lack of calorie intake while skiing, but I've been making it a point to drink and eat more my last few ski outings and that hasn't changed the outcome...still get the HA the following day.  The headaches are always contained in what feels like the frontal lobe/forehead...honestly it feels like a really bad hangover but I don't drink anymore so it can't be that.   I live in Seattle and usually ski around 5000' of elevation, so I wouldn't think altitude would be the cause either. I've never been prone to HAs, this just started this winter and only occur the day after skiing. It's to the point where I dread the day after skiing because I know how bad the HA will be!

Hi. I am online and available to assist you. Thank you for your patience.
How long has this been going on for?
Do you get headaches like this at any other times?
Do you have any medical problems or take any medication?
Other than the headaches, do you have any other symptoms at all?
Do the headaches seem to go away with rest all the time?
This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. I look forward to helping you.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I first started getting these headaches this past fall and only in the past month or so have I noticed that they always occur the day after girlfriend who is a nurse pointed that out actually. I don't recall if I have had one of these headaches on a day that didn't follow skiing.

The other major symptoms I have at the same time is general fatigue and irritability. I just want to lay down and go to sleep and not talk to anyone or look at anything, which isn't always an option in the afternoon. Looking at a TV and/or computer makes it worse. I generally don't feel nauseous but I also don't feel like I have my normal appetite while having one of these HAs.

Going to sleep at night always works as a cure...I might feel a faint residual the next day but nothing close to what it was. Meds don't touch it - I've tried ibuprofen and Tylenol. Another nurse friend of mine who suffers from migraines gave me an imitrex to try next time I have one but I haven't tried it yet.

I have no significant other medical hx except for a few broken bones back in the day and I've never gotten these HAs in the past. I am a very active outdoors-man and I ski and climb in the Cascades year round, usually at elevations ranging from 5000-7000 feet.



Well, it is hard to say what exactly is going on. As you mentioned you are not at a very high elevation and, since you are active in other things and don't get the headaches they are most likely not due to some serious issue like a brain aneurysm. The fact that the headache resolves with sleep alone also points to there not being anything serious going on at this point.
It could very well be that you are experiencing migraines as your other nurse friend has suggested. Migraines can have almost anything as their trigger (as I know from personal experience) and can respond to rest and relaxation.
So. What is the take home message? I do not think your headaches represent any serious underlying pathology. I suggest you start to keep a diary of your headache activity, what make them better, how long they last, any associated symptoms etc, and see how things go.
Should these headaches become more severe, more frequent or you start to have any other symptoms then you can take your diary to a MD and, hopefully, get to the bottom of things.
But. For right now, I would continue to enjoy Spring Skiing as the season is rapidly coming to a close :( and start keeping a diary.
Is there anything else you would like to discuss at this point or have all your questions been answered to your satisfaction?
I hope this information was helpful for you. But I do work for tips so I want to make sure you are happy with me before rating me. If you have another question on this or a related issue feel free to fire away. You may also receive an email survey after our chat, if you don’t feel that I’ve earned a “10” rating in all areas, please let me know what I can do to meet your expectations.
Thanks in advance,
Dr. Rick MD FACS
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks for the response! Can migraines come on at any point in life? The thing that I find most curious is that My lifestyle hasn't changed...I've been active in this fashion for years but the headache thing is relatively new. Do you think that this might just a product of getting older? I will definitely start keeping a diary.

They can. Mine didn't start showing up until my late 20's, were horrible in my 30's, not so bad for the next decade, and they are rare now...I'll get back to you on what happens in my 60's :)
Migraines act in strange ways and are different in every patient.
I hope I've been helpful and everything works out for you.
It's safe for you to press the positive feedback button now if you so desire. And, never fear, even after you press that button I don't go up in a puff of smoke -- I'll still be right here to continue helping you, but, as I do work for tips, I want to make sure you are happy before rating me.
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