Alcohol and Migraines: Can Drinking Trigger A Headache? NHI

Alcohol can trigger asthma attacks in patients who have previously been diagnosed with asthma. 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.

  • Not being able to breakdown this toxin causes the body to produce more histamines.
  • Finding a community of people who understand exactly what you’re going through is like being welcomed home after a long, tiring day.
  • This is especially true for people prone to headaches or migraine without alcohol.
  • If you suffer from migraines, talk with your doctor about how alcohol may affect you.
  • However, the type of alcoholic beverage that triggers these headaches is not clear.
  • Cured meats, like sausages, hot dogs, and ham, are high in nitrates, a preservative that helps maintain the meat’s color and flavor.

According to Aurora, however, alcohol consumption isn’t just a question of what’s considered a safe amount. It also depends on whether or not you’re likely to develop headaches. “Some patients with migraine are particularly susceptible to dehydration,” she says. While anyone can experience DAIH, people with migraine are more susceptible. Even a modest amount of alcohol can cause people with migraine to develop a delayed headache or trigger an attack.

Migraine Headaches

According to Dr. Kevin Moore, PsyD, an addiction specialist, alcohol fools your body into thinking that you’re drinking water, but in reality, alcohol actually poisons the brain cells. Migraine is a disabling disease that no one should have to go through alone. It’s essential to build a support network of understanding people who can not only check in on you during an attack but also empathize with your experience. Then consider joining the Move Against Migraine support group on Facebook so you can connect with others who live with migraine. While migraine is a common disease that affects 39 million Americans, no two migraine experiences are the same. Symptoms can vary from light sensitivity and dizziness to food cravings or body chills.

can alcohol cause migraines

If you do notice a pattern, especially with particular types of alcohol over others, you may choose to avoid the offending drinks. 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. About two-thirds of people who drink alcohol develop these headaches. People who suffer from migraine are more prone to these reactions — even after drinking less alcohol than people who don’t get migraine headaches. Vasodilation may trigger migraine attacks in certain individuals.

How little is enough to make an impact the next day?

Although any type of alcohol can trigger a migraine, people who experience regular migraine attacks cite red wine as the most frequent culprit. Or you might be fine until after your blood alcohol level returns to normal. 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. Although the scientific evidence is ambiguous at best, chocolate is widely reported as a migraine trigger. Epidemiological studies suggest a chocolate-migraine relationship.

What is optical 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.

However, if you have a serious reaction or severe pain, see your doctor. Also, if your symptoms seem to be linked to an allergy or a medication you’re taking, see your doctor. If you have migraines you’ll want to avoid pickles, kimchi, and kombucha. In fact, it was also suggested that dural mast cells could promote headache by releasing 5-HT, prostaglandin I and histamine [61]. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

How to Get Rid of a Cocktail Headache

Red wine is the type of alcohol most often reported as a headache trigger. Tannin, a component in red wine, has been long considered the culprit. People who get migraine attacks during or after drinking should consider reducing or eliminating alcohol. If they find this too challenging, they may have alcohol use disorder, which warrants treatment. Making sure to drink plenty of water during and after alcohol consumption can decrease the chance of headaches.

We hypothesized that migraine sufferers are more susceptible to specific aspects of the hangover symptomatology complex, namely those that are similar to the migraine attack. In this cross-sectional study, university students were asked to fill structured questionnaires assessing headache history, alcoholic consumption, and hangover symptoms (using the Hangover Symptom Scale (HSS)). Subjects were classified as suffering from migraine with or without aura and nonsufferers according the International Classification of Headache Disorders 2nd Edition (ICHD-II).

It is also possible that retrospective recall biases cause higher correlation between HSS scores across time periods. June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month (MHAM), 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. Because sleep deprivation is a common cause of morning headaches, people with insomnia also have a high risk of experiencing morning headaches. People with this sleep disorder struggle to fall asleep or to stay asleep. As a result, they often do not get sufficient sleep and may feel unrested or sluggish during the day.

What is alcohol intolerance?

Overview. Alcohol intolerance can cause immediate, uncomfortable reactions after you drink alcohol. The most common signs and symptoms are stuffy nose and skin flushing. Alcohol intolerance is caused by a genetic condition in which the body can't break down alcohol efficiently.

Certain ethnic groups (Japanese, for example) have a genetically reduced ability to break down acetaldehyde, the main byproduct of alcohol, as it is first processed in the liver. This results in more reddening of the skin (““Asian flush”) and hangovers at lower amounts of alcohol. Artificial sweeteners are sugar-like substances that contain zero calories. While they don’t impact your blood sugar, they can trigger migraines. Avoid processed and sugar-free foods, which typically contain artificial sweeteners. The principal substances of the alcoholic drinks thought to be involved in headache provoked by alcoholic drinks are successively discussed.

To learn more about all of your migraine treatment options, visit the AMF Resource Library. For help finding a healthcare provider, check out our Find a Doctor tool. 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. Another reason why alcohol can cause wheezing is that it not only contains histamines but also stimulates the body to release excess histamines, causing an inflammatory response.

Sulfite preservatives found in dried fruits are believed to be linked to the triggering of migraines. Likewise, citrus fruits, navy beans, lima beans, and onions have also been implicated in some persons. It is believed that compounds present in these foods cause the release of histamine, which may then trigger a headache. However, there is no scientific evidence to support the foods claimed can alcohol cause migraines to elicit migraines. In most patients with delayed headache and also sometimes with immediate headache, the headache fulfilled IHS diagnostic criteria for migraine [43, 44]. It is possible that alcohol itself can trigger headache, especially when ingested in large quantities such as in hangover headache, and some components of the alcoholic drinks can reinforce alcohol action or vice versa.

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