Alcohol Can Trigger Headaches and Migraines
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. A thin, Japanese teetotaling woman taking prescription painkillers will clearly have more problems with a few drinks than a 250 pound linebacker who regularly drinks four beers a night.
- Others find that it is more likely to trigger migraine attacks during vulnerable periods—hormonal changes, stress, and weather changes, for example.
- All alcoholic drinks can provoke either immediate or delayed headache.
- However, in some countries, the occurrence of alcohol as headache trigger is negligible, perhaps determined by alcohol habits.
- Alternate between alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages to minimize alcohol consumption.
- Your overall health condition and tendency to experience headaches also play a role.
A delayed alcohol-induced headache won’t usually begin until 5 to 12 hours after your last drink. You can usually hope to see symptoms subside within 72 hours of their onset. A delayed hangover headache can be more intense than an immediate reaction. Many people compare the pain to that of cluster headaches or migraine attacks. Various retrospective studies show that a high percentage (about one-third) of migraine patients refer alcohol as a trigger factor. However, this factor is frequently reported at about 10%, which is a percentage more plausible. No significant differences appeared between the migraines with or without aura and between migraine and tension headache.
Alcohol’s effects on your body include dehydration, inflammation, reduced sleep quality, and the buildup of toxic substances—all of which can give you a headache. We asked these experts what a person who struggles with migraine would expect if they stopped drinking, and the answers were varied. Overall, physicians state that stopping drinking certain types of alcohol, like those with tannins, may lead to fewer migraine headaches. Savage-Edwards advises that if alcohol is found to be a trigger, then it’s best to avoid it. Like histamine, ethanol is a vasodilator, which directly dilates blood vessels and can often trigger migraines and other headaches.
This is probably much less likely than that suggested by patient’s recall. Moreover, it is frequently necessary to consume alcohol along with other factors to trigger a headache attack. Before alcohol is considered responsible for a migraine attack, the patient should review certain factors. If you find consistent agreement among these factors and the headache, alcohol is possibly causing headaches.
How Can I Avoid Alcohol Related Headaches?
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 consumption is one of the most common dietary triggers for migraine sufferers,” says Dr. Sara Crystal, Cove Medical Director, noting that alcohol causes two specific types of headaches. Individuals who are already prone to have migraine headaches should be especially aware of alcohol-induced migraines. Roughly 3 in 10 migraine sufferers report that alcohol is a trigger at least some of the time. Aside from contributing to the flavor of the alcohol, congeners increase the severity and frequency of hangover symptoms, including headaches.
- As a result, a female’s blood alcohol concentration tends to be higher, making it more likely for females to experience headaches and hangovers.
- In addition to ethanol, alcoholic beverages contain other chemicals called congeners that create the specific flavors of each drink.
- For some people, it could be the amount of alcohol consumed that triggers an attack.
- For help finding a healthcare provider, check out our Find a Doctor tool.
- This study investigates the importance of alcohol as a migraine trigger factor, the prevalence of alcohol consumers and the mechanism of headache provocation.
- Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.
Alcohol is broken down in the liver by an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase. People with a variant in this enzyme have issues with metabolizing alcohol and can develop total body flushing or reddening of the skin. Sign up to our newsletter and receive up-to-date craft beer news, brewery openings, and more every Thursday. NYC-based content strategist with over 3 years editing and writing in the recovery space. Strong believer in accessible, empathic, and fact-based communication. Get in touch with a member of our team today, or learn more about how it works. Ria Health offers several FDA-approved medications for alcohol use disorder.
Delayed Alcohol-Induced Headache
The worst thing you can do is worry and increase your anxiety by thinking that there is something severely wrong with you. Cycles of headaches and symptoms is normal for anywhere up to a year or more – depending on how long you were previously abusing alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are some of the strongest and most dangerous withdrawal symptoms of any drug. They usually start alcohol and headaches out mild and depending on the amount and usage of alcohol consumption, can become life-threatening. The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.
However, the research suggests that alcohol may not be the only trigger and may also depend on other factors. This leads to excessive urination and dehydration, which may cause a headache after a small amount of alcohol. In a 2017 study, researchers found that people of East Asian ancestry drink less than members of other groups. Certain genes may influence the tendency to drink and alcohol tolerance to quantities of alcohol. While there is some research on each possible reason why alcohol causes headaches, study authors have not definitively proven the link between the two.
How does alcohol affect the brain and the rest of the body?
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. Avoiding alcohol isn’t the only way to avoid an alcohol-related migraine headache. There are some health benefits to moderate alcohol consumption, but the key is knowing what types of alcohol cause your headaches, in what amounts, and what other factors might be involved. Many people have experienced a headache after drinking alcohol — especially after drinking too much. While headaches are generally recognized as a side effect of alcohol in many people, its reputation as a migraine headache trigger may be overestimated.