Mystery Headaches

Is altitude sickness causing my headaches or something else?
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Is altitude sickness causing my headaches or something else?

Question:

Recently, while hiking up to 12,000 feet in the Snowy Range, Wyoming, I developed a pounding headache. I thought it was due to a slight case of altitude sickness. However, while hiking a 10-mile trail in Illinois, I again developed a severe headache. Why?

Submitted by - David, Stillwater, MN

Answer:

I can't say for sure. But I can tell you that pounding headaches have three classic causes: dehydration, muscle tension (possibly from the weight of a pack), and a vascular abnormality sometimes labeled as migraines. If it only happens backpacking, I'm guessing either the first or second cause. If it happens when you're not backpacking, I suggest you tell your favorite doc.

—Buck