By Judy Foreman
A few weeks ago, on an otherwise uneventful Sunday afternoon, I got an urgent call on my cell phone from my daughter-in-law, Robin, a vigorous 42-year-old. She was calling from her health club, barely “10 minutes into a decent run” on the treadmill
Suddenly, she told me, she had gotten a “hole” in her vision in her right eye, and zig-zaggy lines like lightening when she closed her eye, a predictable sign, she knew from past experience, that a migraine headache was about to start.
An exercise-induced migraine was not a total surprise for Robin, who has had about a dozen such episodes over the years. “It does make me scared to exercise for a few days,” she told me later. “But then I just get on with my life. I only get four or five migraines a year, so it’s not as scary for me as for some people.”
For years, exercise has been believed to be a significant “trigger” for migraines, along with other triggers, or premonitory symptoms, such as food cravings, being very tired, mood changes, increased urges to urinate, muscle aches, stuffy noses – all part of what Dr. Carolyn Bernstein, a neurologist and migraine specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center calls the “build up of what’s changing in the brain before migraine pain gets going.”