This section looks at some of the general causes of alcohol-induced headaches. In later sections of this article, we’ll look at why certain specific alcohols are more prone to cause post-drinking headaches. In this post, we’ll explore why you get a pounding headache after drinking and why one type of alcohol/s seems to cause more of an issue than others. There has been some research into the effect alcohol has in increasing blood flow to certain parts of the brain, but whether this causes or relieves headache symptoms depends largely on the type of headache.

  • This uncertainty makes it difficult for many people who want to responsibly enjoy alcohol during the holidays or on special occasions to effectively manage their migraine symptoms.
  • While the results in MO and CH are in relative agreement, those in MA and TH are discordant.
  • Not being able to breakdown this toxin causes the body to produce more histamines.
  • Dehydration is one of the reasons why you get a headache after drinking.
  • They have been used for 100s of years by wineries to extend the shelf-life of wines.

Gatorade or other fitness drinks may be better than water alone, but there is no scientific proof. A chemical called N-acetyl-cysteine may be useful in detoxifying the body from acetaldehyde buildup, but this too is an unproven treatment. People prone to migraines tend to have more problems with hangovers. People who drink alcohol regularly, or those who are taking certain specific medications that affect liver enzymes, may metabolize alcohol more quickly, having fewer problems with intoxication and hangover as a result. Conversely, there are many medications that interfere with the breakdown of alcohol and acetaldehyde, worsening the consequences of drinking.

Gender and body weight

Motor pathways become overactive, and blood sugar is processed less efficiently in the brain. As more and more ethanol molecules enter the membranes of the nerve cells, sedating effects develop. The effects of alcohol intoxication are relatively predictable based on measured blood alcohol content. If you develop a cocktail headache, stop drinking alcohol and go someplace where you can rest comfortably. Drink lots of water to rehydrate your body and help flush the alcohol from your system. A sports drink with electrolytes is also helpful for this purpose.

Prolonged Alcohol Withdrawal has an alcohol withdrawal timeline that is longer than the average withdrawal of about 72 hours to a week. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which is why people feel sleepy after they’ve had a drink or two, and why drinking a “nightcap” before you go to bed can sound appealing. Some people find that when they drink alcohol, they experience sneezing and nasal congestion. No differences (but data was not shown) were reported in another population study [31], and in a small study where, however, some bias is present, that is different periods of evaluation, controls with medical illnesses, etc [32].

Food as trigger and aggravating factor of migraine. Neurological Sciences, May 2012.

Whether you have lived with migraine for a few months or a few decades, you know migraine can be a challenging experience. You should continue to seek proper medical attention and access information to help alleviate the burden. We recommend taking a look at our patient guides, which include useful information like how to talk to your doctor about migraine. Try to eat some fruits, herbs, and vegetables that are helpful for alcohol-induced headache recovery. Mango, thyme, ginger, and asparagus are known to contain helpful properties for this purpose.

why does alcohol cause headaches

Drinking even a small amount of alcohol can trigger headache symptoms in certain individuals. These symptoms may begin within minutes or hours of drinking and vary widely in severity. However, why does alcohol cause headaches the type of alcoholic beverage that triggers these headaches is not clear. We also examine the types of headache alcohol can trigger and the types of alcohol likely to cause more headaches.

Headache Cycles During Alcohol Recovery

To answer this, first, you must establish what point of withdrawal you are in. Are you in the acute withdrawal phase, or are you experiencing headaches as a result of Post-Acute Withdrawal? If you are out of the acute withdrawal phase and still having headaches, it could be recurrent symptoms of PAWS causing the headaches. First, some people have lower levels of the enzymes the body needs to break alcohol (ethanol) into metabolites that it can process and excrete. When byproducts of alcohol don’t get broken down quickly enough, they accumulate to levels high enough to cause a mild allergic reaction.

Antihistamines such as Claritin or Sudafed can be an effective way to inhibit the common allergy-like effects of wine if they are taken at least 30 minutes before that first glass of red wine. First, red wine can cause headaches because it contains high levels of compounds called tannins, which inhibit the enzymes that protect the brain from substances that can trigger migraines. When this blood-brain barrier isn’t protected as it should be, the brain is more susceptible to headache-inducing triggers. In conclusion, no significant association between alcohol consumption with migraine and tension headache was found in many studies [26, 28–30]. This work considered the alcoholic drinks and other triggering factors taken the day before onset of headache.

Headache and Migraine After Alcohol Use – Causes and Relief

A migraine is a common neurological condition that causes a variety of symptoms, most notably a throbbing headache on one side of your head. Migraines often get worse with physical activity, lights, sounds or smells. Tannins can also be found in tea, coffee, dark chocolate, and berries. Here is one simple way to check your sensitivity to certain types of tannins. Brew yourself a cup of black tea, and let it steep for 5 – 10 minutes longer than what the packet suggests to ensure the complete release of tannins. Next, drink this tea and focus on your body to see if you find yourself fighting a headache or any other “allergy-like” side effects.

  • Additionally, alcohol consumption decreases the level of B vitamins in the body, which can make headaches worse.
  • The type of alcohol being consumed can determine how little is needed to cause a headache.
  • There are sparse reports that ADs are also triggers of less frequent types of primary headache such as familial hemiplegic migraine, hemicrania continua, and paroxysmal hemicrania.
  • For frequent or severe headaches, your provider may recommend prescription headache medications.

This is worth mentioning because not all headaches result from alcoholic beverages. There are animal studies that suggest a potential link between alcohol’s inflammatory effects and headaches. They found that alcohol may cause inflammation in the trigeminovascular system, which is responsible for transmitting pain signals in migraines and increasing blood flow in the brain (as previously mentioned). Additionally, alcohol consumption decreases the level of B vitamins in the body, which can make headaches worse. Supplementing with Vitamin B12 or B6 before or after drinking may improve symptoms. It’s also worth noting that alcohol-induced anxiety, or ‘hangxiety’, can worsen and even cause headaches in some cases.

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