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Battling Headaches

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 8:17 am GMT +0000    Post subject: Battling Headaches Reply with quote


I've suffered from heat induced headaches for a couple years and I really can't figure out a good way of preventing them. I say heat induced but I can't really be sure. It seems to be the common factor amoung my many experiences so logic would suggest it's the culprit. But I am ready to accept that it might be something else.

So let me catch you up a little on the problem.

Growing up in Houston I never dealt with heat headaches. I didn't have problem with them during the summers I was in college riding and doing field geology in Missouri and Utah. But 3 years ago I moved back to Houston and not to long afterwards the headaches started up. I don't think I had my first really bad one in the US though. I'm an Enviro Engineer in the Oil industry and one of my larger projects is in the Amazon rain forest near the Equator. From June of 2004-March of 2006 I spent 1-2 weeks (per month) working out in the field down there. 12 hour days in the sun, heat index hitting 130F most days. So the first day of each trip would be the worst for headaches. But usually a cold shower, dinner and a couple Advil would kill it at night. As the trip would go on the headaches would lessen, but never go away.

Back in the states I would get the same headaches from as little as a 1 hour ride in the Houston sun. Even when I try to ride early/late I still get the headaches. Night riding does not usually result in a headache, or at least hardly anything.

These headaches are bad, often knocking me out for 2-3 hours after a ride (sometimes I battle through them, other times I just sleep it off). They feel like they start at my eyes and move towards the back of my head.

So my thoughts/questions:

Is it the heat or something else?
My eyes are already light sensative, so is it possible that my sunglasses are not doing enough and eye strain is causing the headaches?
Perhaps dehydration/electrolites/caloric demand issues are to blame?

Right now I drink about 100oz over the course of a 4 hour ride. Lately I have been drinking HEED, but am trying new products.

Thanks Doc,

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The Bike Doc

Joined: 08 May 2003
Posts: 1371
Location: Corpus Christi and Warda, Texas

PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 10:49 am GMT +0000    Post subject: Reply with quote


You may have it nailed down with your discription of "Heat Headaches" and your fluid replacement regimen. Do this, weigh yourself immediately before and after a ride. If you find that your weight is down post ride (I would bet it would be based on the information you have provided) it is likely your head aches are due to dehydration from inadequate fluid replacement. Most adult males sweat 1 to 2 quarts (liters) per hour of working out in high temperatures. 100 ounces is only about 3 quarts. For a four hour ride you should be drinking 4-8 quarts of water based on your sweat output. It is likely with your working in hot conditions over the years you body has addapted to the heat by increasing the volume of sweat produced per hour, a normal physiologic response. When you weigh yourself you need to add 16 ounces of fluid intake for each pound of weight you are down. Add that volume on top of what you are already drinking. Do use a sport drink, such as Gatorade(TM) that replaces your electrolytes to avoid diluting out your sodium, potassium and chloride you loose with your sweat.

Let me know how it goes.

Paul K. Nolan, MD
AKA: The Bike Doc
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