Sulfites are chemicals that occur naturally during fermentation and are also cited as a headache culprit. Sometimes more sulfites are added during the wine-making process to help preserve the drink. If you’re tannin-sensitive, the above foods will also likely trigger you. But the exact cause of a migraine after a few glasses of red wine is likely multifaceted and may be due to a combo of the following causes.

does alcohol cause migraines

If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911. Chronic alcohol abuse may be linked to the development of epilepsy in some instances. People who have had seizures after binge drinking may begin to have seizures even when not consuming alcohol. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality concluded that topiramate could reduce the number of drinking days, heavy drinking days, and drinks per day based on two trials. No correlation between wine intolerance and histamine content of wine.

Other alcohol-related headaches

Many foods are considered capable of triggering migraine attack, but the relationship is frequently equivocal. Perhaps, only alcohol has what is to be considered a sure dietary trigger, but its importance is still debated. Many retrospective studies show that alcoholic drinks act as migraine triggers, at least occasionally, in about one-third of migraine patients, and as frequent/consistent trigger in about 10% of patients. Some studies report that ADs are also a trigger of tension-type headache . A recent review reports that in retrospective studies performed in different countries, about one-third of migraine patients indicate alcohol as a migraine trigger, and all ADs may act as trigger. Fourteen studies reveal a percentage higher than 20% (mean 31.9%) .

Eco Sober House

An immediate alcohol-induced headache, also called a cocktail headache, typically occurs on both sides of the head. This kind of headache is often a pulsating or throbbing type of pain. A delayed alcohol-induced headache, which can begin between five and 12 hours after consuming alcohol, . Kelman L. The triggers or precipitants of the acute migraine attack. Wöber C, Wöber-Bingöl C. Triggers of migraine and tension-type headache. Researchers have found genetic links to migraine, a condition that causes severe headaches. People who consume greater quantities of alcohol report more alcohol-related headaches, according to several studies. Then again, in some groups, alcohol appears to have protective effects against headaches. 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.

Other red wine headache triggers

Red wine contains 20 to 200 times the amount of histamine than white wine. Women are more likely to have migraines triggered by red wine than men. This hangover headache appears in the next morning after alcohol intake. At this time the blood alcohol level is falling and reaches zero. The symptom of headache is present in 2/3 of subjects with alcohol hangover. The DAIH can be experienced by anyone, but people with migraine are more susceptible. Furthermore, migraine patients can develop headache with the ingestion of modest amounts of alcohol. All alcoholic drinks can provoke either immediate or delayed headache.

does alcohol cause migraines

Some studies have reported that alcohol can trigger a migraine headache in people who are sensitive to it in as little as 30 minutes — or it could take 3 hours. The fundamental question still remains to be made definitely clear. Is alcohol or another component of the drink responsible for triggering headache? To provoke a migraine attack a combination of factors may be necessary. These may include a given blood/brain alcohol level with degree of brain sensitivity along with the presence or not of other triggers. Although migraine sufferers consider red wine the principal migraine trigger, Sober Home studies show that other alcoholic drinks are equally or more frequently the cause. American Migraine Foundation, alcohol may trigger a migraine attack. If you find that a small amount of alcohol does not trigger a migraine attack or a hangover headache, consult your doctor about appropriate amounts to consume. However, keep in mind that the medication you take to prevent and treat migraines may interact with alcohol. Your doctor can examine your medical history and conditions as well as any medications you take, to determine how much alcohol, if any, is safe for you to consume.

Dark-colored alcohols like red wine, brandy, and whiskey may contain more of them. Even though your pain is legit, there’s no concrete scientific link between migraine and red wine. Compared to other types of alcohol, red wine’s relatively high tannin and histamine content may play a role in headaches and migraine. According to the American Migraine Foundation, all alcoholic drinks can provoke either an immediate or delayed headache. There are two main types of headaches that people experience after drinking alcohol, including immediate and delayed alcohol-induced headaches. In addition to ethanol, alcoholic beverages contain other chemicals called congeners that create the specific flavors of each drink. These chemicals can often trigger headaches, alter chemicals in the body, and induce the hangover effect if consumed in excess. Another study shows that of the 429 migraine patients, 17% are sensitive to all forms of alcohol, 11.2% to red wine but not to white wine or clear spirits, while 28% are sensitive to beer . No differences exist between male and females [17, 22,27–29] in alcohol susceptibility.

What wine is good for migraines?

White wine is made without the grape skin, so it has a lower histamine content than red wine, which is made from the whole grape. A histamine sensitivity could make you more susceptible to a headache. Keep in mind that some other foods contain more histamine than alcoholic drinks.

Many studies in different countries show that alcohol is a headache trigger in high percentage of migraine subjects, both in the general population [15–17] and headache clinic population [18–22]. About one-third of the patients (mean 34%) report alcohol as a trigger (Fig.1). However these are retrospective studies, and until recently only a prospective study based exclusively on the subjective patients information exists . Recent studies show that alcohol acts as a trigger at least occasionally in a percentage similar to that of the previous studies (37%), but as a frequent/consistent trigger in only 10% of the patients . Curiously, in some countries, the percentages of alcohol or wine as migraine triggers were negligible, 6.1 and 1.4% , perhaps depending on the degree of alcohol habits. In a 2018 study involving 2,197 people with migraine, 25% of the participants who had stopped or always avoided drinking did so because alcohol triggered migraine attacks. More than a third of the participants said that alcohol had this effect, with about 78% naming red wine as the most common alcohol trigger.

Migraine Headaches

Scientists are still trying to understand how or why alcohol acts as a trigger for some people who suffer from migraines. At present, most studies seem to link to headaches after alcohol to congeners, a byproduct of alcohol, most commonly found in darker drinks, such as whiskey, brandy and red wine. Ierusalimschy R, Moreira Filho PF. Precipitating factors of migraine attacks in patients with migraine without aura. Many studies with noninvasive imaging techniques has does alcohol cause migraines well established that low-moderate doses of alcohol, after oral or intravenous administration, increases cerebral blood flow. The increased cerebral perfusion, due to direct or indirect vasodilatory mechanisms, was found in most cerebral regions, stronger in women, and inversely correlated with sensitivity of alcohol. Therefore, alcohol may have an action similar to other strong vasodilators such histamine, CGRP, and glyceryl trinitrate , which trigger migraine.

Strang NM, Claus ED, Ramchandani VA, Graff-Guerrero A, Boileau I, Hendershot CS. Dose-dependent effects of intravenous alcohol administration on cerebral blood flow in young adults. Finocchi C, Sivori G. Food as trigger and aggravating factor of migraine. Relaxation techniques may help ease stress-related migraines, and they may make migraine episodes feel less severe when they happen. While does alcohol cause migraines the information on this website is doctor reviewed, it is not meant to act as or take the place of advice from a healthcare professional. Symptoms may include unexplained tiredness, vomiting, or mental status changes and should receive immediate medical attention. Migraine is often accompanied by many other uncomfortable symptoms, such as visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.

It’s another good source of fructose and it helps the body process alcohol faster. For example, some wine manufacturers add sugar for sweetness, tannins for taste complexity and even sulfites to prevent oxidation and preserve the wine’s color. Cluster headaches are a very severe form of headache that happens in cycles, usually followed by headache-free periods. With no known cure for your condition, it may feel like there’s no obvious light at the end … If you regularly shut the blinds, turn off lights, or retreat into a dark corner of the room, you could be sensitive to light. Your body naturally produces histamines, a compound released when the body encounters allergens and inflammatory reactions.

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