Why Does Beer Give Me a Headache or Migraine?

Sulphites have not been shown convincingly to lead to headache in individuals with sulphite sensitivity. Sulphites are considered to be the cause of red wine intolerance, particularly asthma . No differences exist between migraine and tension headache in the frequency of alcohol as a trigger [17, 18, 20, 24–26, 29] . Other studies show that only migraineurs had episodes of tension-type headache precipitated by alcohol . It is known since antiquity that wine could be a trigger for migraine.

alcohol and headaches

Zoethout RW, de Kam ML, Dahan A, Cohen AF, van Gerven JM. A comparison of the central nervous system effects of alcohol at pseudo-steady state in Caucasian and expatriate Japanese healthy male volunteers. Burstein R, Jakubowski M. Unitary hypothesis for multiple triggers of the pain and strain of migraine. Ashina M, Tfelt-Hansen P, Dalgaard P, Olesen J. Lack of correlation between vasodilatation and pharmacologically induced immediate headache in healthy subjects. Marxen M, Gan G, Schwarz D, Mennigen E, Pilhatsch M, Zimmermann US, et al. Acute effects of alcohol on brain perfusion monitored with arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance imaging in young adults. Yadav RK, Kalita J, Misra UK. A study of triggers of migraine in India.

Can Alcohol Trigger Migraine Headaches?

The likelihood of having headaches increased in stepwise fashion with stress level and decreased ability to relieve stress, in both men and women . In many cases, researchers say it’s more a matter of individual triggers or other factors that coincide with your alcohol consumption, like stress. Like so many other answers to science questions, “it depends.” Body weight and gender are very important factors. While five to eight drinks for the average man, and three to five drinks for the average woman, are enough to cause some degree of hangover, specific effects will vary greatly between individuals. Certain ethnic groups have a genetically reduced ability to break down acetaldehyde, the main byproduct of alcohol, as it is first processed in the liver. This results in more reddening of the skin (““Asian flush”) and hangovers at lower amounts of alcohol.

alcohol and headaches

My prescriptions generally go to the pharmacy and not the liquor store. But there are a few secrets to consuming alcohol without the alcohol-induced headache. I realized that if I drink one glass of beer after I notice the pain, it helps me relax and even reduces the feelings of pressure in my head. If you notice consistent patterns, then chances are it’s the alcohol that’s causing your migraine headache. Hangovers can last up to 72 hours after drinking, but most are shorter in duration. Again it depends on how much was consumed, how dehydrated you became, nutritional status, ethnicity, gender, the state of your liver, medications, etc.

What alcohol causes the most headaches and/or migraine attacks?

Not drinking is easier said than done for some, but it is the only proven, time-honored way to prevent alcohol-induced headache disorders. Many of the same tips for preventing a headache after drinking also work for treating one. Hydration and electrolyte replacement is one of the best things you can do to help recover from an alcohol-induced headache. Make sure to avoid hydrating drinks that are heavy in sugar, as either low blood sugar or high blood sugar can make a hangover headache worse. As mentioned above, B vitamins such as B6 and B12 can also be helpful after drinking, and pain medication should be used sparingly and with caution.

Should I be worried if I have headaches everyday?

Consult with your primary care doctor if your headache symptoms get worse or occur more often despite treatment at home. Your doctor may refer you to a headache specialist. “No one should go through life suffering from chronic headaches,” Dr. Jackson says.

When it enters the bloodstream it dilates blood vessels, which leads to headaches. While all alcohol contains high levels of histamines, red wines have a significantly higher amount than other beverages, and therefore may lead to more severe headaches.

Types of headaches associated with alcohol

Although, as we’ll discuss below, there are other factors that can lead to headaches no matter what form of alcohol you consume. Another study shows that of the 429 migraine patients, 17% are sensitive to all forms of alcohol, 11.2% to red wine but not to white wine or clear spirits, while 28% are sensitive to beer . No differences exist between male and females [17, 22,27–29] in alcohol susceptibility. Make sure it’s top-shelf.While there is no magical alcohol that alcohol and headaches doesn’t cause headaches when consumed in excess, alcohol does vary tremendously from manufacturer to manufacturer. Top-shelf brands not only taste better but may also be less likely to prove a migraine trigger. I caution patients to order a specific brand of alcohol when ordering a cocktail rather than relying on well drinks or lower-quality brands. Scientific rigor is lacking to prove what patients have reported for centuries about wine triggering migraine attacks.

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