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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've endured headaches during and after long hard hot rides forever. Not every ride, but frequently enough to be bothersome. Some just slight, nagging, almost unnoticeable and some really hurtful ones.

I've deduced that my hydration and electrolyte management was probably causing this and I have been trying all kinds of various 'schemes' to see if I can 'not hurt in the head' somehow.

I've come to realize/learn that balancing my electrolytes and fluid intake is very touchy,

For much of last season, I was trying LOTS of drinking...a couple of big bottles per hour on hard rides...Still got the headache after 4-5hrs or sometimes a few hours after getting off the bike, it'd come on for the whole evening...I postulate I was taking in too much fluid and thereby upsetting my electrolyte balance.

During a 12 hr endurance event I do each fall I cramped painfully and had a splitting headache at about hr 10 last season. This was while taking in 2 bottles per hour, one of them a so-called Electrolyte/Energy drink mix.

This season, I have begun to ingest Endurolytes (Hammer) and drink Nunn fluids in a more controlled way. None of this "Drink, drink drink! If you are thirsty, it's too late..you are already dehydrated" I read up everything I could find about fluid intake and electrolyte balance and 'distilled' (no pun intended) enough knowledge to make great progress with my headache problem. 20oz per hr is an often mentioned figure..

It seems, in my case, that there is a pretty fine line between 'just right' and 'unbalanced'... I was 'not paying attention' or I didn't know till now.

FWIW...I have been using one lg. bottle per hour and 2 Endurolytes as a base, and then I extrapolate carefully from there depending on temperature and exertion level. I have also discovered that when I finish a ride, I must not pound the fluids...I keep my intake to around that same rate. Very rare headaches this season. 165lb rider Experienced, racer and rec rider.
 

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That's a great story. I wonder if the headaches were the early stages of hyponatremia.

IIRC overdrinking can lead to hyponatremia regardless of electrolyte intake.
 

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Do you get headaches in other phases of your life? During exertion like running, swimming, gardening, chasing the kids, etc.? What about when you're just walking around, watching TV, waking up in the morning? One of the common triggers for migraines is hard exertion.

Are there any other symptoms besides the headache? Nausea? Sensitivity to light, sound, or smell?

If you belive you've solved the problem with good a good hydration strategy, great! However, it may be worth taking a look at the problem in it's fullness if you're getting headaches during non-cycling periods.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
PG_Gary said:
Do you get headaches in other phases of your life? During exertion like running, swimming, gardening, chasing the kids, etc.? What about when you're just walking around, watching TV, waking up in the morning? One of the common triggers for migraines is hard exertion.

Are there any other symptoms besides the headache? Nausea? Sensitivity to light, sound, or smell?

If you belive you've solved the problem with good a good hydration strategy, great! However, it may be worth taking a look at the problem in it's fullness if you're getting headaches during non-cycling periods.

No more than most people.

No, I used to get the headaches only after a real hammer fest or a race, and more frequently during hot days of riding. Two hours...usually no problem...~4hrs + or a really hot day or an intense climbing effort or a crit and I would get the headache...maybe about 10% of the times. Not often in winter when I wasn't prespiring much.

Nope, I think I discovered that my 'balance' inside is more critical than I'd thought and that over drinking or under electrolyte causes me to have headaches..I know other's have mentioned this problem with exertion headaches, so maybe it will help someone to know how I solved my problems.
 

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Yes i had the same problem.I got headaches after every ride. Sometimes during the ride sometimes 5 hours after, but for sure after every ride. It would be migraine headaches and i would just want to pass out. I tried drinking more or drinking less, more gatorade, nothing worked. Someone mentioned botox as a solution to this problem. I received a botox injections in my forehead and for 4 months i had 0 headaches. Got another injention and have been headache free for another 6 months. It has totally changed my riding and my life. If migraine headaches are your problem, you should definately check this out.
 

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I drink a lot of coffee... and sweat buckets on the bike. I need to drink a lot of water to keep balanced. I get headaches quickly if I get dehydrated. I find that drinking more water during the day is better than drinking tons on the bike. Glad you found a way to work it out though!
 

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Glad you are figuring it out. For years I've gotten massive headaches when sweating hard. Somehow I'd figured out it was electrolytes for me. Finally started taking salt tablets. My body will tell me what it needs if I listen to it.
 

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On other cause of headaches after biking is from the neck. Bending your head back contracts the suboccipital muscles or muscles at the base of the skull. There are four nerves in the area called occipital nerves which runs from the back of the head to behind the eyes which can sometimes get irritated. I had this everytime I went scuba diving. I started stretching, had a massage and got my neck manipulated and usually that gets me six months down the road. This probably isn't as common as electrolyte imbalance though.
 

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Just remember the heat/sunlight will elevate your heart rate when you are exercising. I've been part of a research study that was showing that my heart rate rises nearly 8bpm when switching between sun and shade even though the workload remains the same.

So it could be effects of heat stressing your body. So I would try to avoid these very hot rides. Try going out early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
 
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