Individuals from different ethnic backgrounds may have variable sensitivity to alcohol. This alcohol and headaches article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth.
While in some cases it is likely the presence of alcohol itself, it is also possible that specific components of different alcoholic drinks act as triggers. Much like food triggers for migraine, people may have a higher sensitivity to certain organic components commonly found in alcoholic drinks. This data suggests that there may be a misperception that drinks containing alcohol cause migraine attacks.
How Can I Avoid Alcohol Related Headaches?
All of these factors will mean fewer drinks before a headache kicks in. As dehydration can cause headaches, staying hydrated when consuming alcohol is key. Aim to drink plenty of water before, after, and during alcohol consumption. 2021 research also linked lifestyle factors with alcohol drinking and smoking to cluster headaches and their severity. Factors such as sensitivity to specific ingredients in alcohol, body weight, or genetic factors may cause headaches in some people after consuming alcohol. If you aren’t sure that alcohol is to blame for your headaches, try keeping a diary. Each time you drink, write down the type of alcohol you have, the amount, and if and when you had a migraine.
They are thought to contain chemicals called congeners that add to ethanol’s harmful effects. No one is exactly sure how ethanol causes its various effects, but once absorbed from the stomach into the bloodstream it can freely cross out of the blood and into nerve cells of the brain. Once in the brain it causes a chemical release that leads to pleasurable feelings, and it lessens inhibitions by depressing certain frontal lobe functions.
Alcohol-induced headaches: Evidence for a central mechanism?
People who suffer with cluster headaches are particularly sensitive to dark beers, according to Dr. Aurora. June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month , which is a great opportunity for communities to spread awareness about suffering from headaches and migraine. So with that goal in mind, we spoke to a number of physicians specializing in headache and migraine treatment as well as addiction medicine to find out exactly why drinking may trigger a headache. There is a myth that drinking more alcohol can help with hangover symptoms, commonly known as the “hair of the dog.” While symptoms may temporarily lessen, they will likely return with even more intensity than before. Liquids rich in minerals and salts such as bouillon offer relief from the dehydration caused by alcohol consumption.
It is not fully understood why this is, but some studies point to the toxic effects of chemicals in alcoholic beverages, like congeners, as a possible culprit. Migraine is complex, and other neurological conditions may cause migraine-like symptoms. For this reason, it is important to see a doctor about migraine symptoms or chronic headaches, with or without drinking. Headaches, including migraine, are treatable with the right combination of medication and lifestyle adjustments. People who have frequent migraine attacks may wish to consider migraine prevention medications such as topiramate , divalproex , or propranolol . A tendency toward migraine may also play a role in hangovers, especially hangovers that cause migraine-like headaches. A 2014 survey of 692 students, 95 of whom had migraine, found that those with migraine were more likely to experience migraine-like symptoms during a hangover.
Migraine Triggers Home
Some studies on the alcohol habits in migraine patients show a low percentage of drinkers in migraine patients. This was supposed to be due to previous experiences of alcohol as headache trigger, but one study does not agree . Certainly, if a less alcohol preference in migraine patients will be confirmed in large controlled studies, it merits a correlation with 5-HT system, which is involved in migraine pathogenesis in some way. In fact, an inverse relationship between density and metabolic functioning of regional brain 5-HT system and alcohol preference was repeatedly reported in animal studies [69–72].
How long does an alcohol migraine last?
For most people, a post-drinking headache will go away on its own after one day.
Still, in population-based studies in various countries, including the U.S., Japan and Italy, researchers found that fewer people with migraine consume alcohol than those without migraine. This indicates that people with migraine and other headache diseases may be more likely to give up alcohol because they perceive it as a possible migraine trigger.