Exertional headaches are a group of headache syndromes, which are associated with some physical activity. These headaches typically become severe very quickly after a strenuous activity such as weight lifting or sexual intercourse. Exertional headaches can, in some instances, be a sign of abnormalities in the brain or other diseases. Activities that can precipitate these headaches include running, coughing, sneezing, sexual intercourse, and straining with bowel movements. Anyone who develops a severe headache following these types of exertion should certainly be checked to rule out any underlying organic cause.
The main symptom of an exertional headache is moderate to severe pain that people often describe as throbbing. You might feel it across your entire head or just on one side. Primary exertional headaches can last anywhere from five minutes to two days, while secondary exertional headaches can last for several days. Additional symptoms include: