Alcohol Consumption In Headache Patients
Since alcohol can trigger migraine and tension headache attack, only a low percentage of headache patients should drink alcoholic beverages. Few and often only descriptive studies exist on this topic, with marked differences in the percentage of consumers perhaps depending on the country habits . No differences between migraine and tension headache were reported .
Table 2 Percentage of migraine patients consuming alcohol
This study is in accordance with a larger population-based study performed to detect cardiovascular risk factor in migraine, showing significantly less alcohol consumption in migraine than in control subjects .
No differences were reported in another population study , and in a small study where, however, some bias is present, that is different periods of evaluation, controls with medical illnesses, etc .
Other Remedies For Avoiding Migraine
Preventing migraine begins with identifying and reducing or eliminating common migraine triggers such as alcohol, dehydration, and certain foods. A person should try keeping a migraine diary for a few weeks to observe trends in their headache patterns.
Relaxation techniques may help ease stress-related migraines, and they may make migraine episodes feel less severe when they happen.
People who have frequent migraine attacks may wish to consider migraine prevention medications such as topiramate , divalproex , or propranolol . They can discuss these treatment options with a doctor.
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.
Why Does Wine Give You A Headache Possible Answers Relate To Sulfites Tyramines Histamines And Dehydration
A 1999 Study on Wine and Migraine published by Florence University in Italy, found that “there was no statistical relationship between the consumption of alcohol and migraine attacks. On the other hand, a positive relationship was established between stressful events and the onset of migraine attacks.”
The question of whether one wine or another increases your risk is well addressed in this Wall St. Journal article by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher. They interview Dr. Frederick Freitag, Diamond Headache Clinic MD and amateur winemaker. Their conclusion: sulfites don’t matter, and European Reds are the riskiest.
A better-quality California, Oregon or Washington Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc is your safest bet, consumed with plenty of water and food.
Red wine, sherry, vermouth, and beer contain large amounts of tyramine, one of the most powerful migraine triggers. Sulfites and Histamines are also suspected ingredients, and have been refuted. The alcoholic beverages least likely to trigger a headache are vodka or white wine mixed with other things. Like juice or club soda.
Another option to safely join in the fun without triggering a pile of pain is to LOOK like you’re drinking when you’re not.
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Mocktails That Won’t Trigger A Migraine
Cream Soda or Root Beer: When everyone is bellying up to the bar for a beer, order a foamy-topped Cream Soda or Root Beer in a beer glass. .
Cranberry Twist: When everyone is ordering mixed drinks, order a cranberry and club soda with a lime.* It’s a Cosmopolitan look-alike.
CocoTini: When everyone is ordering martinis, order flavored coconut water with a twist of lime* in a martini glass. It tastes like the beach!
Ginger Ale: When everyone is ordering champagne to celebrate, order a ginger ale in a champagne glass. Cheers!
Sparkling Water: When everyone is ordering mixed drinks, order a Perrier or LaCroix. On the rocks.
A bigger reason to steer clear of booze is that any type of alcohol causes dehydration, which is a major headache trigger. If you’re drinking, it’s always a good idea to alternate alcoholic drinks with water or seltzer.
Is Alcohol Or Another Component Of The Drink The Headache Trigger
Red wine is typically considered the most likely alcoholic drink trigger. In 1988, Littlewood and colleagues showed that 300 ml or ten ounces of red wine, but not vodka with an equivalent alcohol content, provoked headache in red wine sensitive migraineurs. Migraineurs not sensitive to wine and non-headache controls did not have headaches triggered. They suggested that red wine contains a migraine-provoking agent that is not alcohol. Some studies in France and Italy report white wine as the major culprit. However, there are reports of also spirits, sparkling wine and beer triggering headache. Wine does not need to be ingested in large quantities to produce headache. In wine sensitive patients the time between drinking red wine and developing headache varied from 30 min to 3 hours. Only one or two glasses at most need be ingested.
The fundamental question still remains to be made definitely clear. Is alcohol or another component of the drink responsible for triggering headache? It remains difficult to answer this question. 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.
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Does Caffeine Help Wine Hangovers
Caffeine in coffee and other caffeinated beverages can be helpful in reducing wine hangovers. Caffeine causes blood vessels to get smaller over a short time period which counteracts the allergic effects of histamines and sulfites. This simple approach is a great place to start when you first start feeling a wine headache coming on.
Tricks To Remedy A Wine Headache
#1 Drink a Glass of Water With Every Glass of Wine.
The most common mistake that wine drinkers make is hydration. Its easy to forget because you are drinking already. When theres wine involved hydration is key and water is what you need. Make it a habit to chug a glass of water prior to enjoying a glass of wine. It may stress your waiter out but your forehead will appreciate you.
#2 Take Two Before Drinking.
Since Im suggesting over-the-counter-drugs and Im not your doctor, be sure to consult your doctor first. If you are uncomfortable with this idea , skip to trick #3 and repeat trick #1.
#3 Dont Eat Sugary Things with Wine.
The only thing worse than a red wine headache is a cake-and-wine headache. Confetti cake sounds particularly amazing , however the combination of sugar and alcohol will greatly exacerbate the potential for a headache. If you are sensitive to wine, reserve confetti cake for your midnight coffee-and-cake binges only and stave off the dessert desire while drinking wine.
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How To Test Your Wine Tolerance
If you must drink wine, test your tolerance at home in private first. Keep a special wine tracker or make a specific entry in your migraine diary to identify other factors present when you drink wine. Make a note of everything you eat or drink in the days before enjoying your wine, which will give you a clear picture of all the circumstances surrounding your first attempt. If wine doesnt work for you, follow the same process with each type of alcohol until you discover which is safe for you to enjoy.
What Are Sulfites And Tannins
“Tannins are a group of chemical compounds found in the skins, stalks and seeds of grapes. They make your wine feel astringent and bitter and leave a drying sensation in your mouth,” explains Brianne Cohen, a Los Angeles-based certified sommelier, wine educator, judge and writer.
The concept that these drops would reduce tannins is the first thing that made Cohen raise a red flag, as these are generally only present in red wines .
Tannins are also potent in coffee, tea, walnuts, dark chocolate and other foods, explains Linda Shiue, MD, chef and author of Spicebox Kitchen:Eat Well and Be Healthy with Globally Inspired, Vegetable-Forward Recipes.
“People who are sensitive to tannins find the taste to be bitter or astringentthat mouth puckering feeling of biting into an unripe persimmon or plum,” Dr. Shiue says. That doesn’t mean it will trigger a headache.
If you do think that tannins are the cause of your headaches, drink a cup of black tea to test your sensitivity, Cohen suggests. Or if you like, try white wine, which naturally has low to no tannins.
“Tannin levels in dried tea leaves are sky high. If you can drink black tea, then you likely do not have any sort of tannin allergy or sensitivity,” Cohen says.
No wonder one reviewer chimes in, “I wish there were a way to test how many of the sulfites and tannins it actually removed. If it removes ALL of them, I’m guessing some of those sulfites and tannins must be the very things making my vino taste goooooood. LOL!”
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Cure #2 Try Claritin Or Allegra
If you seem to get a headache each time you drink wine, especially when drinking red wine, you may be susceptible to the histamines inside the beverage. The simple solution here is taking an allergy pill when you first feel the headache coming on. If it works, simply take a Claritin or an Allegra prior to the next time you drink wine, and you should be good to go.
The Fluids You Should Drink And Which Ones To Avoid When You Have A Headache
When you’re dealing with a headache, you may wonder what you should and should not drink to help get rid of it. Maybe you crave a quick solution and hope a cup of coffee or a tall glass of water will ease your pain.
Below, you can see whether what you’re reaching for is a yes, no, or maybe.
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Your Wine Headache Could Be Caused By The Amount Of Sugar In Your Wine
The combination of alcohol and sugar is a prime culprit for wine headaches, as both require high amounts of water in order to process properly. If you go into the evening of drinking dehydrated or allow yourself to become dehydrated while drinking, a wine headache is a likely result. While dehydrated, your body will start to pull water from other areas of your body in order to process the alcohol and sugar including from your brain. The emphasis here, if you havent gathered yet, is to drink lots of water!
Be mindful of the amount of sugar in the wines you are drinking regularly, click here to learn more about how much sugar is in your wine.
Tyramine Could Be The Cause Of Your Wine Headache
Tyramine is an amino acid which forms naturally during the fermentation process and is commonly found in wine and cheese. The reason it makes the list for adding to wine hangovers is that while it is a natural by-product, it can be difficult for peoples bodies to break down. Tyramine can have a negative effect on peoples blood pressure resulting in nasty migraines.
A wine and cheese combo, due to the double dosage of tyramine, can often work its way into a hangover the next morning. If you find yourself battling hangovers often the night after drinking wine , then it would be wise to avoid wine and cheese nights .
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What The Community Says About Alcohol
Since every person is different, it helps to hear what tactics help others.
I steer clear of sulfites: “I get a 24-hour headache in the front of my skull after drinking even two sips of a wine with sulfites in it. I get the same headache after consuming dried fruits with sulfates. I do not get the headache after consuming organic wines made without added sulfites. The naturally occurring sulfites in wines do NOT bother me, but the chemicals added to wine give me a headache.” Deborah
It all depends on the weather: “For me, making the decision to drink is never just about wine, beer, or vodka. It’s about the barometric pressure that day, my hormone cycle two triggers I can’t control. If I’m at higher migraine risk from other triggers, I don’t tempt fate. It’s smarter to order a ginger ale.” Kate
I medicate first, then party: “I hate to admit it, but a preemptive strike with a triptan works for me, if I know the night might result in three or more drinks. Thankfully, not much drinking happens in my world so, it’s the social stuff. I can go weeks without a drink, but knowing when and how is really critical!” Nicci
It’s not the wine at all:“I used to think it was the alcohol triggering my attacks. Then I discovered that alcohol can interrupt sleep, and sleep impairment and fatigue can trigger an attack.” Sharron
Now that you’ve heard from the evidence, the expert, and the community, it’s up to you to make the best decision for your mental and physical health.
What Can You Do To Avoid A Wine Headache
If youve identified wine as a common headache trigger, your best bet might be to avoid drinking wine. That could mean no more reds, no more whites, or no more wine at all.
On the other hand, if your headaches are bearable and youre willing to risk it, you may want to experiment with different types of wine. You may be able to separate the offending wines from those that dont trigger a headache.
Wines are made with a variety of grapes, preservatives, and other ingredients, so keep track as you go. Choose high quality wines and only drink a small amount until youre sure how that wine affects you.
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What Alcohol Causes The Most Headaches And/or Migraine Attacks
Wine, in particular, has been linked to headaches dating back to antiquity. Despite this common belief, there is little scientific evidence to suggest that wine is more likely to trigger a headache from drinking than another type of alcohol.
It has been noted in some studies that in less than 30% of people, red wine triggers headache no matter the number of drinks consumed. White wine and sparkling wines have not been shown to have the same effect on headache.
Are There Red Wines That Dont Cause Headaches
In a small 2014 study, high tannin red wines like tannats and malbecs were most likely to trigger migraine attacks in participants. But drinking cabs and merlot was associated with fewer migraine attacks.
While this theory still remains essentially unproven, the idea is that drinking wine with less tannins = less headaches.
So, in addition to drinking white wine, you may also want to try red wines with fewer tannins like:
- pinot noir
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Hacks To Avoid Wine Headaches
Suffering from a nasty headache after a night of drinking a few glasses of wine? Or how about dealing with a piercing migraine as you share a bottle with friends? If either of these sounds like you, it’s likely you deal with wine headaches on a frequent basis. While it may not be a particular medical condition, getting headaches after enjoying glasses of wine can be really common for drinkers.
Nevertheless, there are a few ways to lower your chances of getting those nasty wine headaches. These tricksand a few productswill help decrease the intensity of wine headaches, and may even eliminate them for good. Here are a few hacks to avoid wine headaches, and for more healthy eating tips, make sure to check out our list of 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.
How Do I Avoid An Attack If I Want Red Wine
The executive chairman of the National Headache Foundation and the director emeritus of the Diamond Headache Clinic, Dr. Seymour Diamond, gives suggestions for trying to avoid the red wine migraine if you are insistent on having a glass. His first piece of advice is to drink the wine with water or to try sipping the wine very slowly, since wine itself can dehydrate you.1 This is logical advice for the consumption of any alcohol since dehydration is part of the hangover. Secondly, he suggests that you consume two strong cups of coffee prior to drinking the red wine in order to constrict your blood vessels and help lower the effect of the tannins.1
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The Connection Between Wine And Migraines
To wine or not to wine, that is the question for many migraine sufferers who believe there is a connection between drinking wine and developing an attack. While alcohol in general is considered a common trigger by some, research from the American Migraine Foundation appears to show the risk is overrated. The most common reason for a headache associated with wine consumption is drinking too much of it. This presents itself as a hangover that causes stress, which is an undisputed trigger of migraine attacks. All the same, some patients develop headaches after drinking just a single glass of wine, especially when red wine is made from dark-colored grapes.
Should Migraine Patients Avoid Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol in low dose, especially of red wine, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Migraine, specifically with aura or high frequency, increases the risk of some cardiovascular diseases. The unselective suggestion of alcohol abstinence for all migraine patients is not correct. In fact, patients with high migraine frequency with increased risk of ischemic stroke may benefit from a low dose of alcohol. Certainly, alcoholic drinks may trigger migraine and tension headache in some subjects.
This is probably much less likely than that suggested by patients 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. These include careful recording of the intake of the amount of alcohol, the specific drink types, the frequency of induced-headache to the amount and type and the 48 hours prior to headache and any situation or stress prior to the alcohol intake.
If you find consistent agreement among these factors and the headache, alcohol is possibly causing headaches. However, when the factors do not associate together consistently, or extremely rarely, abstinence is not necessary. Since alcohol is considered a risk factor for breast cancer, know your risk for this disease.
Alessandro Panconesi MD, Via Amedeo Bassi 20, Montespertoli, Italy 50025
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