Sober living

Headache and Migraine After Alcohol Use Causes and Relief

In this case, a direct action at the vascular system is hardly compatible with TH or MA. More plausible is an action at subcortical pain modulatory circuits, which in some way stimulate the neural generator of CH (hypothalamus?) and of migraine aura (cortex?, thalamus?). One study shows that ADs trigger CH attack within 2 h in 82% of cases, red wine being the most implicated. Curiously, several reports show transitory remission as a result of alcohol consumption and also delay of the following attack through consumption of large amounts of alcohol. Some reports suggest increased alcohol consumption, and even alcohol abuse, in CH population. Other studies do not support this, finding almost 50% change drinking habits, avoiding alcohol.

  • You can usually hope to see symptoms subside within 72 hours of their onset.
  • To start, alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you go to the toilet more frequently.
  • Congeners tend to aggravate brain tissue and blood vessels, which contributes to headaches.
  • No significant differences appeared between the migraines with or without aura and between migraine and tension headache.

The kidneys increase urination substantially, leading to dehydration. Blood vessels in the skin dilate, causing flushing and increased cardiac output. The liver starts working overtime to detoxify the blood of ethanol and acetaldehyde, and cannot keep blood sugar adequately regulated. Generally, a larger person will require more drinks to achieve the same blood-alcohol concentration as a smaller person. Therefore, smaller people might need less alcohol to trigger an alcohol-related headache.


Certain additives can increase the chance of developing a alcohol and headaches after drinking. People prone to headaches may be at a higher risk of experiencing alcohol-related headaches. Many different factors can contribute to a hangover as a result of drinking. Drinks containing more alcohol and congeners may worsen the chance of developing a headache. Making sure to drink plenty of water during and after alcohol consumption can decrease the chance of headaches.

Headache after a small amount of alcohol: Causes – Medical News Today

Headache after a small amount of alcohol: Causes.

Posted: Tue, 15 Nov 2022 08:00:00 GMT [source]

Dehydration causes brain cells to contract temporarily, also resulting in headaches. Ethanol is found in every alcoholic drink, and is a key reason why any form or amount of alcohol may contribute to headaches. Alcohol-induced headaches can be treated with an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as Tylenol or Advil .

Migraine with aura

If you have alcohol on an empty stomach, it will speed up absorption and increase your chances of both immediate and delayed headaches. It’s a good idea to fill up on nutritious, filling foods such as eggs, dairy, and lean meats before heading out on the town.

What is the least damaging alcohol to drink?

"Clear liquors like vodka, tequila, and gin are lowest in sugar and calories and are easiest for our bodies to metabolize," Kober says.

As a result, a female’s blood alcohol concentration tends to be higher, making it more likely for females to experience headaches and hangovers. 2020 research shows that females are more likely to experience hangovers, memory problems, and liver disease from consuming alcohol.

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These symptoms may begin within minutes or hours of drinking and vary widely in severity. Factors such as sensitivity to specific ingredients in alcohol, body weight, or genetic factors may cause headaches in some people after consuming alcohol. If you aren’t sure that alcohol is to blame for your headaches, try keeping a diary.

Avoid further dehydration by drinking liquids (other than alcohol!) — water, chicken soup, Gatorade, whatever works for you. Hangovers can last up to 72 hours after drinking, but most are shorter in duration. Again it depends on how much was consumed, how dehydrated you became, nutritional status, ethnicity, gender, the state of your liver, medications, etc. A more recent 2019 study also highlighted histamines as a culprit for migraines. Alcohol not only contains histamines, it can also cause your body to create them.

Your diet also plays a role, as a full stomach can slow the absorption of alcohol. Alcohol has different effects on the body depending on when you drink it. There are also the side effects of drinking that might be to blame. The relation between tyramine and migraine has been studied most extensively. Half were pioneering studies performed by Hanington et al. (see ) which showed that oral tyramine provoked headaches in dietary migraine patients but not in nondietary migraine or controls.

  • Alcoholic drinks have been reported as a migraine trigger in about one-third of the migraine patients in retrospective studies.
  • Red wine often gets the most blame, but beer can also have a significant impact.
  • Early effects of alcohol can dull sensations and have an analgesic effect, but as alcohol leaves the body it can have the opposite effect and actually increase sensitivity to pain.
  • One study shows that ADs trigger CH attack within 2 h in 82% of cases, red wine being the most implicated.
  • If you do so, you can reduce the severity of a hangover while still having a good time.
  • Moreover, the larger study also includes TH patients with coexisting migrainous headaches.
  • In this case, a direct action at the vascular system is hardly compatible with TH or MA.