Here’s a piece of good news for all those people who love alcohol. The next time you have a severe headache, gulp down 2 pints of beer instead of taking over-the-counter medicines. According to a new study, drinking two pints of beer provides better relief than consuming paracetamol by 25%. People who get hangovers that trigger a migraine may wish to avoid alcohol with high levels of congeners.

  • Many people confuse this with a regular hangover until the intensity of the migraine sets in.
  • There are also the side effects of drinking that might be to blame.
  • It may also help eliminate triggers that tend to co-occur with drinking, such as dehydration and sleep deprivation.
  • Be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your migraine medications and potential interactions with alcoholic beverages.

Sulfites are added to alcohol to limit yeast growth and act as a preservative. These can be found in a lot of processed foods, dried fruits, and alcohol, specifically white wine. When enjoying a night out on the town, there are several triggers you may expose yourself to including bright flashing lights, loud music, food and alcohol.

Are there any effective treatments?

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. No one is exactly sure how ethanol causes its various effects, but once absorbed from the stomach into the bloodstream it can freely cross out of the blood and into nerve cells of the brain. Once in the brain it causes a chemical release that leads to pleasurable feelings, and it lessens inhibitions by depressing certain frontal lobe functions.

can alcohol help migraines

Tannins are naturally occurring compounds (called polyphenols) found in grapes, certain fruit juices, and beer. People who suffer with cluster headaches are particularly sensitive to dark beers, according to Dr. Aurora. Multivariate analysis by linear regression tested independent predictors for hangover symptoms (total HSS at last year and its sub-scales). For each test, P values less than 0.05 were considered as statistically significant unless stated otherwise.

Why Alcohol Frequently Triggers a Migraine

Reducing or eliminating alcohol may reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. It may also help eliminate triggers that tend to co-occur with drinking, such as dehydration and sleep deprivation. Studies show that many people with migraine choose not to drink alcohol for fear that it may trigger a migraine attack. However, researchers aren’t clear on exactly how or why alcohol can impact migraine. There is even some debate about whether alcohol itself or another chemical component in alcoholic drinks acts as the trigger. This uncertainty makes it difficult for many people who want to responsibly enjoy alcohol during the holidays or on special occasions to effectively manage their migraine symptoms.

can alcohol help migraines

These include migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches. There is some evidence that vitamin B6 taken before drinking can be mildly helpful. An anti-inflammatory drug called tolfenamic acid has been shown to be somewhat helpful when taken during alcohol consumption. While this drug is not available in the U.S., other related medications, including ibuprofen, naproxen, and prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be similarly helpful. However, when combined with alcohol they might increase the risk of stomach bleeding.

How alcohol can disrupt our sleep and trigger migraine

Additionally, missing your morning coffee can lead to a caffeine withdrawal headache. While a dehydration headache is not classified on its own by the International Headache Society, water deprivation is reported as a headache trigger. If you’re dehydrated, water will usually alleviate the pain within the first 30 minutes, according to a study in Headache. Migraine episodes can be a periodic inconvenience, or they can be debilitating. The most severe migraine attacks may last up to 3 days and make it impossible to do anything.

can alcohol help migraines

The interpretation of this data should be cautious, since recall bias is a major concern. It is also possible that retrospective recall biases cause higher correlation between HSS scores across time periods. 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).

Different Types of Headaches From Alcohol

Water is the clear winner among drinks to help prevent and alleviate headaches. But give the other recommended beverages a try; you may discover one or two that bring fast headache relief or lower your number of headaches overall. The group that drank more water scored higher on a quality of life assessment. A larger percentage of the water-drinking group (47 percent) also reported experiencing “much improvement” in their headaches compared to the control group (25 percent).

Does alcohol help or worsen headaches?

Alcohol has long been associated with the development of headache, with about one-third of patients with migraine noting alcohol as a trigger. Based on this association, population studies show that patients with migraine tend to drink alcohol less often than people without migraine.

The CeCe migraine management app allows you to keep a real-time diary right on your phone. You may learn that certain types of beer create more of a reaction than others. Drinking plenty of water will help to prevent a hangover and will also help to keep your migraine attacks at bay. Those who headache after drinking alcohol are triggered by alcohol usually feel the attack coming on within a few hours, although some reported that the next day was when they felt it. For example, one medication used to treat migraines is gabapentin. But taking gabapentin and drinking alcohol at the same time can be dangerous.

Hydration and electrolyte replacement is one of the best things you can do to help recover from an alcohol-induced headache. Make sure to avoid hydrating drinks that are heavy in sugar, as either low blood sugar or high blood sugar can make a hangover headache worse. As mentioned above, B vitamins such as B6 and B12 can also be helpful after drinking, and pain medication should be used sparingly and with caution.

  • While this is not necessarily true for everyone, it’s true for so many people that a trend toward abstinence developed among migraine-sufferers.
  • Conversely, there are many medications that interfere with the breakdown of alcohol and acetaldehyde, worsening the consequences of drinking.
  • People who get hangovers that trigger a migraine may wish to avoid alcohol with high levels of congeners.
  • The informal poll of our Migraine Strong community members indicated that 53% are triggered by alcohol.
  • Of the 12,998 subjects, 1,411 (5.4% of the men and 15.4% of the women) reported having headaches.
  • This will be a valuable resource for you and your doctor to start identifying more specific migraine triggers.

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