Overexertion and Migraines: My Journey to Understanding

Overexertion and Migraines: My Journey to Understanding


As someone who has personally experienced migraine attacks triggered by overexertion, I have embarked on a journey to understand the connection between these two factors. While migraine attacks can have various triggers, it became evident to me that overexertion played a significant role in the frequency and intensity of my migraine attacks. In this article, I will share my observations, experiences, and the steps I took to manage and prevent migraine attacks caused by overexertion.

The Impact of Overexertion

Overexertion refers to pushing your body or mind beyond its normal capacity. This can include physical activities such as intense exercise, manual labor, or even mentally demanding tasks like working long hours or studying for extended periods. Overexertion can trigger migraine attacks due to the following reasons:

  • Increase in physical or mental stress: Overexertion puts additional stress on the body and mind, leading to tension and heightened sensitivity that can trigger migraine attacks.
  • Activation of the body’s stress response: Overexertion can activate the body’s fight-or-flight response, increasing adrenaline and cortisol levels. These stress hormones can trigger migraine attacks in susceptible individuals.
  • Release of stress hormones: Excessive physical or mental strain can release stress hormones that affect the chemical balance in the brain, potentially triggering migraine attacks.

My Observations and Experiences

Recognizing the pattern between overexertion and migraine attacks was crucial in managing and preventing my migraine attacks. Here are some of the key observations and experiences that helped me:

  • Tracking symptoms and occurrences: Keeping a detailed migraine diary helped me identify patterns between overexertion and the onset of migraine attacks. I recorded the date, time, duration, intensity, location of pain, and other symptoms experienced during each migraine episode. This enabled me to identify triggers related to overexertion.
  • Noticing triggers during strenuous activities: By paying close attention to my body’s response during strenuous activities, such as intense workouts or long hours of mental work, I noticed specific triggers such as increased tension in my neck and shoulders or visual disturbances. These signs signaled the need to take preventive measures.

Seeking Medical Advice

Consulting with a healthcare professional, especially a migraine specialist, is essential in managing migraine attacks triggered by overexertion. Here are the steps I took:

  • Importance of finding a migraine specialist: Migraine specialists have expertise in understanding and treating migraine disorders. They can provide personalized guidance based on your specific triggers and symptoms.
  • Sharing my observations and diary: During my appointments, I shared my detailed migraine diary with the specialist, highlighting the patterns I had identified. This information helped them formulate an accurate diagnosis and recommend suitable treatment options.
  • Medical tests and evaluations: To rule out other potential causes of my migraine attacks, the specialist ordered tests such as MRI or CT scans. These tests helped confirm that overexertion was indeed a significant trigger for my migraine attacks.
  • Discussion of treatment options: Based on my specific condition, the migraine specialist discussed various treatment options to manage and prevent migraine attacks triggered by overexertion. These options included acute treatments for immediate relief during migraine attacks and preventive medications to reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.

The Role of Lifestyle Changes

In addition to medical intervention, making certain lifestyle changes can play a significant role in managing migraine attacks triggered by overexertion. Here are some strategies I incorporated:

  • Setting realistic goals and expectations: It is important to acknowledge our limits and avoid pushing ourselves beyond what our bodies and minds can handle. Setting realistic goals helps in preventing overexertion and subsequent migraine attacks.
  • Prioritizing self-care and rest: Taking the time to rest and engage in self-care activities is crucial in preventing overexertion. This can include activities such as taking breaks during the workday, getting enough sleep, and practicing relaxation techniques.
  • Establishing healthy boundaries: Learning to say no and setting boundaries is essential in preventing overexertion. It is important to prioritize our well-being and not feel obligated to take on more than we can handle.

Medication and Treatment Options

Depending on the severity and frequency of migraine attacks triggered by overexertion, various medication and treatment options may be considered. Here are some possibilities:

  • Acute treatment for migraine attacks triggered by overexertion: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can provide relief during mild migraine attacks. For more severe cases, prescription medications such as triptans or anti-nausea medications may be recommended.
  • Preventive medications: If migraine attacks triggered by overexertion are frequent and debilitating, the healthcare professional may discuss the option of preventive medications. These medications are taken regularly to reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.
  • Natural remedies and alternative therapies: Alongside medical treatments, some individuals find relief through natural remedies and alternative therapies. These can include herbal supplements, acupuncture, chiropractic care, or relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation. It is important to discuss these options with the healthcare professional before incorporating them into your treatment plan.

Coping Strategies and Support

Developing coping mechanisms and seeking support are crucial in managing migraine attacks triggered by overexertion. Here are some strategies that have helped me:

  • Maintaining a healthy sleep routine: Getting enough sleep and establishing a regular sleep routine can help in preventing migraine attacks triggered by overexertion.
  • Stress management techniques: Stress can contribute to migraine attacks, so it is important to find effective stress management techniques that work for you. This may include deep breathing exercises, meditation, or engaging in hobbies that help you relax.
  • Creating a calm and migraine-friendly environment: Making changes to your environment, such as reducing noise and bright lights or using a cool compress during migraine attacks, can provide relief and create a more migraine-friendly space.
  • Seeking support from loved ones: It is important to educate your family and friends about migraine attacks and seek their understanding and support. By communicating your needs and limitations, you can create a supportive network.


Understanding the connection between overexertion and migraine attacks has been a significant step towards managing and preventing these debilitating attacks. By keeping a migraine diary, seeking medical advice, making lifestyle changes, and exploring appropriate treatment options, it is possible to regain control over one’s health and minimize the impact of migraine attacks triggered by overexertion. It is always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance and treatment plans based on your specific condition.

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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