One of the main problems facing those who struggle with alcohol is the alcohol-induced headache. This common problem may affect one of the 10.8 million adults in the UK who are drinking at a worrying level. Alcohol-induced headaches are not only subject to those who have a history of misuse or abuse of alcohol.
- These types of headaches can strike anyone, of any age and background.
- An alcohol-induced headache may fall into many categories and whilst they are painful and unpleasant, there are things that can be done to relieve the symptoms.
- In this article, we are going to talk you through everything you need to know about the alcohol-induced headache as a way to better understand how it is caused and how you can help yourself or someone you love to cope with its effects.
The single main reason that alcohol is the cause of a headache is that it is what is known as a diuretic. In simple terms, this means that it has an effect on the kidneys which causes the level of fluid that you are taking in to become lower than what your body is putting out,
In other words, you will go to the toilet more frequently, but the lost liquid will not be as evenly replaced. This contributes greatly to dehydration, which is the cause of your alcohol-induced headache. Anyone who suffers from regular migraines will know how debilitating they can be, and unfortunately, alcohol can be a huge trigger for this condition.
Alcohol is responsible for creating a relaxing effect on the blood vessels. In turn, this leads to more blood being able to flow into the brain, which can trigger a migraine, It has been seen in many studies all over the world that one-third of those who suffer from regular migraines have noted that alcohol is one of the main things to trigger them off.
- The main ingredient in alcohol that is responsible for a sore head is ethanol.
- There are a variety of reasons why this potent chemical can cause a headache such as its ability to dilate the blood vessels.
- Alcohol is a diuretic, causing the body to lose vital salts and minerals which help it to function.
The ingestion of too much ethanol can cause an unhealthy imbalance of chemicals within the body, which over time may lead to more serious conditions than just a headache. We have already discussed that a migraine is a common headache experienced after drinking alcohol, but the alcohol-induced headache may fall into one of two categories.
Why do I get a headache immediately after one drink?
Sensitivity to specific ingredients in alcohol – Alcoholic beverages include a chemical known as ethanol. This chemical is a vasodilator, which increases the size of blood vessels in the body. Vasodilation may trigger migraine attacks in certain individuals.
- This is especially true for people prone to headaches or migraine without alcohol.
- Chemicals called congeners are also a component of alcoholic drinks.
- These chemicals may also trigger migraine headaches in certain people.
- Another compound known as histamine is common in alcohol, particularly red wine.
Scientists have established that this compound c a n cause vascular headaches.
How do you prevent headaches when drinking?
How do I advise my patients to avoid an alcohol-induced headache? – 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. If you are prone to migraine attacks or headaches and you do decide to drink alcohol, here are a few steps you can take to reduce your risk of waking up in pain:
Make sure it’s top-shelf. While there is no magical alcohol that 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. Watch out for punch or premade drinks. Pick your poison and stick to it. The risk of developing an alcohol-induced headache is particularly high with mixed drinks that are composed of multiple types of liquor. If you do drink alcohol, choose one kind and stick to it. In an open-bar situation, choose beer, wine, or a mixed drink made with a high-quality brand. Alternate alcohol with food and water. This dilutes the effect of alcohol in your system and reduces the chance of an alcohol-induced headache or triggering a migraine attack. Some people drink water in between glasses of wine, for example. Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach, Put a cork in it. Even people who are not prone to headaches will get a headache after a night of heavy alcohol consumption. One or two drinks with food and water over time might be safe for you, but three or more will produce a hangover headache for many people. Know your limits and respect them. Track yourself and the type of alcohol you drink. Keep a diary of exactly what brand you drink, how much alcohol you drink, how you’re drinking it, and if there are any other migraine triggers present — like hormonal swings or weather changes, or certain foods. Remember that triggers are additive. That will help you know what’s safe for you and what isn’t. Don’t drown your sorrows. If you’ve had a tough day at work or a stressful interaction with someone, drinking alcohol might not be the best way of coping, In fact, drinking alcohol to calm yourself down can elevate your risk of triggering a migraine attack or an alcohol-induced headache. Exercise, laughter, or meditation might be better ways to blow off steam,
Quantity is definitely a factor in whether drinking alcohol will trigger a headache, and the quality of alcohol probably plays a role as well. We do not know for sure, though, how any specific type of alcoholic beverage will affect people with migraine.
Can wine give you an instant headache?
Sometimess it begins with a dull forehead throb, a warp in the corners of my vision. Then the pain spreads until it feels like my mind is unsticking itself from my brain. It’s a headache, a vicious one, and why do I have it? Because someone asked me a simple question — “red or white?” — and, despite knowing the possible consequences, I chose red.
I’m not alone. According to a 2013 study, more than a third of regular wine drinkers report occasional headaches from wine — and not from overindulgence. Even a single glass can trigger one. But as those of us who suffer are well aware, not every red causes a headache every time. Last year, for instance, I was at a dinner party thrown by a glamorous friend.
She’d brought up a couple of rare bottles of Burgundy from her cellar. The wine was the color of rubies. It undoubtedly cost a fortune. “I’ve also got some sort of Riesling in the fridge,” she said. I hesitated. It should have been an easy choice — undistinguished Riesling versus grand cru Burgundy.
Can alcohol be a migraine trigger?
With Christmas over and Dry January in full swing, you might be noticing differences in your migraine attacks if you’ve drunk more or less than normal recently. If there seems to be a connection between alcohol and your migraine, you’re not alone. About a third of people with migraine find that alcohol can trigger their attacks, while about 10 percent find it triggers them on a regular basis, according to a 2016 study,
What’s a vascular headache?
Vascular migraine is an outdated term to describe any headache associated with changes to the blood vessels in the head or neck. Migraine, cluster headache, and toxic or illness-related headaches all have links with changes to the blood vessels. This article will discuss what a vascular migraine is, its associated symptoms, and available treatment options.
It will also discuss ways to help prevent them from occurring. A vascular headache, or migraine, refers to a group of headache conditions that occur due to changes in blood vessels in the head or neck. They often involve throbbing pain and swelling or dilation of the blood vessels. Organizations, such as the International Headache Society, no longer use the term “vascular headache.” Healthcare professionals now classify vascular migraine headaches as either primary or secondary headaches.
However, primary headaches are conditions in their own right, and include:
- tension-type headache
- cluster headache
Secondary headaches occur as a result of another condition, such as hypertension, head trauma, and sinusitis, According to the American Migraine Foundation, a migraine is a disabling neurological condition that may affect at least 39 million people in the United States. Additionally, migraine may be chronic or episodic. They also have distinct phases, including:
- Prodrome: This typically occurs before the migraine and includes symptoms of tiredness, fatigue, mood swings, or food cravings.
- Aura: This occurs in about 20% of cases and typically causes vision issues.
- Headache: This is pain on one or both sides of the head lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
- Postdrome: This occurs after the headache and can include symptoms such as fatigue, sensitivity to light, body aches, and concentration issues
A person typically does not experience every phase of a migraine. Symptoms of a migraine can last 4 hours to several days and often include:
- moderate or severe head pain
- vomiting or nausea
- pain located on one or both sides of the head, front or back, or around the eyes
- worsening pain after physical activity
- pain that interferes with activities, school, or work
- pounding, pulsating, or throbbing sensations
- sensitivity to light, smell, or noise
Doctors do not fully understand what exact cause of migraine, though it tends to run in families. People can have different triggers that cause migraine to occur. Learn more about migraine triggers. Tension headaches are common, affecting up to 30% to 78% of the population.
- Infrequent: A person will experience 10 episodes a year.
- Frequent: Individuals will experience 10 or more episodes that occur around 1–14 days per month.
- Chronic: People will experience an episode for 15 days or more a month for longer than 3 months.
Some causes of tension headaches include :
- lack of sleep
- not eating on time
According to the National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD), cluster headaches are a severe and uncommon form of primary neurovascular headaches. They occur on one side of the head above the eye or by the temple in most cases and can last from 30 minutes to 2 hours. People may describe the pain as burning, stabbing, and searing. Other symptoms include:
- watery eyes
- facial sweating
- nasal congestion
- eyelid swelling
- eyelid drooping
They are most likely to occur during the spring and fall, while triggers of cluster headaches can include seasonal changes, smoking, or drinking alcohol. There are a variety of illnesses that can cause a headache to occur. Fevers from illness, such as the flu and other conditions, can cause a headache to occur.
Symptoms that have associations with illness-related headaches can vary based on the condition affecting the person. Typically, following treatment of the underlying condition, the headache will also resolve. Treatment options will vary based on the type of headache. The treatments for secondary headaches will depend on the underlying cause.
A person should talk with a doctor about the options that will work best for them. People can try the following measures to help ease headache symptoms:
- drinking plenty of water
- trying to relax, if possible
- taking over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen
Individuals may also wish to avoid:
- drinking alcohol
- skipping meals
- sleeping for longer than they usually would
- looking at screens for extended periods
In some cases, a person may be able to avoid triggers associated with cluster or migraine headaches. For some types of headache, individuals may require prescription medication Treatment for migraine includes preventative treatment, such as:
- avoiding triggers
- stress management strategies
- taking preventative medication, such as erenumab, lasmiditan, ubrogepant, and lasmiditan
Additionally, a person can seek symptom relief by using:
- analgesics, such as aspirin and ibuprofen
Learn more about tips for instant migraine relief. Treatment for cluster headaches includes:
- sumatriptan injections
- sumatriptan nasal spray
- oxygen therapy
Learn more about treatment for cluster headaches. People may not be able to prevent all headaches from occurring. However, they could take steps to avoid them, including taking preventive medications. For both migraine and cluster headaches, a person can avoid known triggers to decrease the number of headaches they have.
The American Migraine Foundation notes that individuals can take steps to avoid stress, eat foods that do not trigger their migraine, and take medication to help prevent migraine headaches. At the onset of a cluster headache, a person may be able to use an oxygen mask with 7–15 liters of oxygen every minute to help stop the attack.
A doctor may also recommend other steps to prevent headaches from occurring, including avoiding smoking and alcohol. Headaches that are related to illness may be unavoidable. However, treating the underlying condition may help prevent a headache from occurring.
- being female
- having a family history of migraine
- have other medical conditions, such as anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and epilepsy
A doctor will need to understand a person’s symptoms, family history, and response to medications they take. They will likely ask several questions to help them determine the cause of the pain. The diagnosis criteria can vary based on the type of headache:
- Migraine: A doctor will ask about a person’s medical history and ask about their symptoms. They will also perform a physical and neurological exam.
- Tension headaches: A healthcare professional will diagnose tension headaches based on symptoms.
- Cluster headaches: There are no tests to diagnose cluster headaches. However, a doctor will diagnose them from a person’s headache patterns,
A doctor may mistake a migraine for a cluster headache. According to NORD, a person needs to have at least five migraine headaches that meet the following conditions:
- severe pain around the eye lasting 15 minutes to 3 hours
- attacks occur up to eight times a day or once every other day
- includes symptoms such as congestion, swelling of the eye, drooping eyelid, or facial sweating
Diagnosis for an illness-related headache will vary based on the symptoms a person has and the underlying condition. A person should speak with a doctor if they experience symptoms associated with migraines or cluster headaches. A healthcare professional will need to diagnose the condition and discuss possible treatment options.
- the headaches keep recurring
- painkillers are not effective
- the headaches get worse
- they experience pain at the front or side of the head, as it could be a migraine or cluster headache
- they experience symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, or noise sensitivity
Health experts now categorize vascular migraine as primary or secondary headaches, which can include migraine, tension headaches, cluster headaches, and illness headaches, among other causes. The symptoms and treatment options will vary depending on the type of headache a person is experiencing.