Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on January 25, 2022 After a night on the town, it’s easy to blame a headache on too much alcohol. But if you’re prone to migraine headaches, drinking even a small amount of alcohol can bring on an attack. Many things can trigger a migraine, from stress at work to changes in the weather to foods like aged cheese,
- And for about one-third of people who have migraines, alcohol is also a trigger.
- Alcohol’s exact role in triggering a migraine isn’t fully known.
- Many things are probably at play.
- For instance, alcohol byproducts called congeners have been linked to headaches.
- Dark-colored alcohols like red wine, brandy, and whiskey may contain more of them.
Learn more about the effects of alcohol on the brain, Alcohol not only contains a chemical called histamine, but it also spurs your immune system to make more. This boosts inflammation throughout your body. A chemical called ethanol is alcohol’s main ingredient.
Once it gets into your system, it is converted into a chemical that triggers migraine. Ethanol is also a natural diuretic, That means it makes you pee more than normal. All of these things can set you up for a migraine. You might have heard that red wine is most likely to cause problems. But other drinks like sparkling wine, beer, and hard liquor may be just as likely, if not more, to cause problems.
Alcohol can cause two different types of migraine headaches. You could get a headache within 30 minutes to 3 hours of drinking. You don’t have to chug a large amount for this to happen. Some people only sip a glass or two of wine before their head starts to throb.
- Or you might be fine until after your blood alcohol level returns to normal.
- This is called a delayed alcohol-induced headache (DAIH).
- It may not show up until the morning after you drink.
- This type of headache can happen to anyone, but people with migraines are more likely to get one.
- It can happen even if you drink less than people who don’t get migraine headaches.
Drinking a small amount of alcohol may be good for you. It can lower your odds of heart disease and strokes. But if you’re prone to migraine headaches, you’ll need to be careful about how much you drink. A 5-ounce glass of wine (or 12 ounces of beer or a 1.5-fluid-ounce shot) may be OK every now and then, so long as it doesn’t bring on a headache.
If it does, you’ll need to drink less or stay away from all 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. Include how you felt the prior 48 hours as well as any stress or anxiety you were under at the time.
Over time, you should be able to see a pattern. A migraine each time you have a night out should be good reason to abstain. You can also try to: Have alcohol with a meal. This may lower the chance of bringing on a migraine. Don’t drink when you’re stressed.
- It’s linked to a higher number of migraine headaches.
- Skip home hangover remedies.
- There’s no proof that drinking raw eggs or downing hot sauce will get rid of your morning-after migraine faster.
- Downing more alcohol (the “hair of the dog” theory) won’t help either.
- Try triptans,
- Ask your doctor if this medicine might help.
It can’t prevent a migraine, but it can help stop one after it starts. Triptans work best when you take them at the early signs of a migraine. Still, they can cause serious health risks for many people.
- 1 Why do I get headache when I drink alcohol?
- 2 How do you prevent a headache when drinking?
- 3 What is the headache after drinking called?
- 4 Which alcohol gives the least hangover?
- 5 Is headache a symptom of alcohol intolerance?
- 6 What is optical migraine?
Why do I get headache when I drink alcohol?
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 a headache 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.
What is the headache after drinking called?
Headaches that continue the day after consuming alcohol are called hangover headache or alcohol-induced headache. Some people get what are known as cocktail headaches, which are headaches that begin immediately after drinking.
Which alcohol gives the least hangover?
The Bottom Line – Let’s be very clear. Drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol—one or fewer drinks a day for women and two or fewer a day for men, per the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) —can lead to negative health consequences,
- And regardless of what you drink, if you overdo it, you will likely feel the consequences the next day.
- Compounds like congeners found in alcohol might further contribute to your hangover’s severity.
- Choosing types of alcohol with fewer congeners—like beer, vodka and wine—might reduce your hangover symptoms compared to alcohols with higher congeners—like brandy, whiskey and rum.
The best way to prevent a hangover is to drink in moderation. And if you don’t already drink, there is not a strong science-based reason to start.
Why does wine in Italy not give you a headache?
So what explains the headache-free European wine drinking experience? It might be related to alcohol levels – European wines usually have less alcohol than American wines. So enjoy your wine whether you’re home or abroad, and rest assured that it’s the sulfites that keep your wine happy, healthy and delicious.
What helps a hangover headache naturally?
If you’ve ever had a few too many drinks on a night out, you know what the next morning can bring. The nausea, headache, parched mouth, and fatigue are telltale signs you’ve got a serious hangover, Each of these symptoms stems from a different cause.
Alcohol disrupts sleep and leaves you groggy in the morning. Drinking widens your blood vessels, which can trigger headaches. Alcohol also irritates the lining of your stomach, leading to nausea and sometimes diarrhea, For almost as long as humans have had hangovers, we’ve tried to cure them with remedies that run the gamut from vitamin B to pickle juice.
Some hangover treatments work better than others, but none is an actual cure. The only way to avoid a hangover is to limit how much you drink or avoid alcohol entirely. And if you find that hangovers are affecting your work or relationships, talk to your doctor about your drinking.
- That said, a few hangover remedies can bring you relief from at least some of your symptoms.
- Here are a few tips to try.
- A big glass of water might be the easiest hangover solution.
- Alcohol dehydrates you by increasing the amount of urine your kidneys make.
- You also lose fluid when you sweat, vomit, or have diarrhea after a night of bingeing.
Dehydration causes symptoms like a dry mouth and headache. If you drink alcohol, drink water before you go to bed. It will curb the effects of the booze in the morning. Another drink of water when you wake up will help keep you hydrated. Have a sports drink to replace the sodium, potassium, and other electrolytes you’ve lost from vomiting or diarrhea.
Some people say that getting fluids through an IV can help ease hangover symptoms. This method has the informal name of “drip bar.” It can be pricey, and health insurance doesn’t cover the bill. But there’s no need to pay for IV fluids when you can drink a glass of water for free. IVs also carry risks like infection.
Korean pear (Asian pear) juice is an old-school hangover remedy. Research shows that drinking about 7 1/2 ounces helps lower blood alcohol levels and makes hangovers less intense. The catch is, you need to drink it before you have alcohol. Drinking it afterward won’t work.
Researchers say Korean pears might work with your body’s chemistry to break down alcohol faster. Only a couple of studies have been done, which is far from proof that this hangover remedy works. But if you can find Korean pear juice at your local supermarket, it doesn’t hurt to try a glass before you go out drinking.
This root has been a feature of Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Herbalists use it to treat ailments ranging from stress to asthma, In one small study, a drink made from red ginseng cut down hangover symptoms. An unrelated herb that goes by a similar name, Siberian ginseng extract, also improved hangover symptoms like headache, dizziness, and stomachache.
But the Siberian type isn’t the ginseng used in Chinese medicine. Ginseng is safe for most people. Check with your doctor before using it if you have diabetes or high blood pressure, Some evidence suggests it might affect blood sugar and blood pressure levels. This medicinal herb grows along tropical coasts.
It treats liver, kidney, and stomach ailments. In one small study, taking Phyllanthus amarus extract twice a day for 10 days helped lower blood alcohol levels, ease hangover symptoms, and improve mood in regular drinkers. You can find extracts made from this herb online and in health food stores.
- Some of these products go by the name “stone breaker” herb.
- That’s because it may help reduce risk for kidney stones,
- Alcohol lowers your blood sugar.
- That may explain the dizziness and shaking some people get with a hangover.
- Your brain needs carbs for fuel.
- Have a couple of slices of wheat toast or a few whole-grain crackers to bring those blood sugar levels back up to normal.
You’ll give yourself an energy boost, too. An over-the-counter pain reliever will calm a pounding headache. Just be careful how much you take. NSAIDs like ibuprofen and aspirin irritate the stomach, which could make nausea worse. Avoid acetaminophen when you have a hangover.
- It can worsen the bad effects of alcohol on your liver.
- The idea behind this popular hangover remedy is that taking another drink will relieve the effects of the last few you had.
- The name comes from an old folk tale that says the way to treat a dog bite is to cover the wound with hair taken from the dog that bit you.
But the truth is drinking again will just throw your body back into the same destructive cycle without giving it time to heal. Experts don’t recommend trying this method. When it comes to getting over a hangover, time and rest may be the best medicine.
Is headache a symptom of alcohol intolerance?
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You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail. Alcohol intolerance occurs when your body doesn’t have the proper enzymes to break down (metabolize) the toxins in alcohol. This is caused by inherited (genetic) traits most often found in Asians.
Sulfites or other preservatives Chemicals, grains or other ingredients Histamine, a byproduct of fermentation or brewing
In some cases, reactions can be triggered by a true allergy to a grain such as corn, wheat or rye or to another substance in alcoholic beverages. Rarely, severe pain after drinking alcohol is a sign of a more serious disorder, such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Risk factors for alcohol intolerance or other reactions to alcoholic beverages include:
Being of Asian descent Having asthma or hay fever (allergic rhinitis) Having an allergy to grains or to another food Having Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Depending on the cause, complications of alcohol intolerance or other reactions to alcoholic beverages can include:
Migraines. Drinking alcohol can trigger migraines in some people, possibly as a result of histamines contained in some alcoholic beverages. Your immune system also releases histamines during an allergic reaction. A severe allergic reaction. In rare instances, an allergic reaction can be life-threatening (anaphylactic reaction) and require emergency treatment.
Unfortunately, nothing can prevent reactions to alcohol or ingredients in alcoholic beverages. To avoid a reaction, avoid alcohol or the particular substance that causes your reaction. Read beverage labels to see whether they contain ingredients or additives you know cause a reaction, such as sulfites or certain grains. Be aware, however, that labels might not list all ingredients.
What is optical migraine?
Retinal migraine – Ocular migraine sometimes is used as a synonym for the medical term “retinal migraine.” A retinal migraine is a rare condition occurring in a person who has experienced other symptoms of migraine. Retinal migraine involves repeated bouts of short-lasting diminished vision or blindness.
These bouts may precede or accompany a headache. A retinal migraine — unlike a migraine aura — affects only one eye, not both. But usually, loss of vision in one eye isn’t related to migraine. It’s generally caused by some other, more serious condition. So if you experience visual loss in one eye, be sure to see a health care provider right away for prompt treatment.
If you have visual symptoms that have not previously been evaluated by a health care provider, you should see a provider if you have any of the following:
- Visual changes in only one eye
- Visual changes that last less than five minutes and more than 60 minutes
- Visual changes without a headache
- New headaches or changes in vision
- Onset of headaches or changes in vision later in life (after the age of 50)
- New weakness on one side of the body or speech changes
These symptoms would suggest a more serious cause of your visual symptoms, and you should see a provider right away. Any new changes in vision also should be checked by your provider.