Alcohol-Related Neurologic Disease: Types, Signs, Treatment

A migraine is a headache that can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. It’s often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so bad that it interferes with your daily activities. In many cases, researchers say it’s more a matter of individual triggers or other factors that coincide with your alcohol consumption, like stress. If a doctor has prescribed medication for your chronic migraine and you choose to move forward with that line of treatment, follow instructions carefully. It is crucial to take medications at the recommended times to ensure maximum effectiveness.

why does alcohol cause migraines

For example, if a person drinks liquor before beer, they are likely to feel the effects of the alcohol sooner. 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.

The Headache Doctor’s Tips for Drinking Alcohol Without Pain

Drinking too much can trigger migraines, and possibly other types of headaches—such as cluster headaches and tension headaches—in people who are already susceptible to these issues. Such headaches can occur while you are drinking, or a few hours after—even if you’ve had as little as one drink. The type of alcohol does not seem to affect whether a person gets a headache. While red wine has been described as a dominant trigger of migraines and cluster headaches, white wine, champagne, sparkling wines, and beer have also been linked to headaches. It’s interesting to note that cocktail headaches are much rarer than hangover headaches, and they can be triggered by variable amounts of alcohol. Or you might be fine until after your blood alcohol level returns to normal.

  • We recommend exploring complementary treatments such as biofeedback, green light therapy and aerobic exercise.
  • So might imbalances in brain chemicals — including serotonin, which helps regulate pain in your nervous system.
  • There are a variety of compounds in alcohol that can cause post-alcohol related headaches.

When you take a drug such as Tylenol while drinking, there is a potential for severe side effects, including liver damage. If you suffer from migraines, you will learn to recognise which particular symptoms affect you. These may include experiencing an ‘aura’ as a warning symptom that a migraine is coming on – this might mean experiencing disturbed vision – such as seeing spots or zig-zag lines. Nausea (a feeling that you might vomit) or vomiting and sensitivity to bright light or sound are also widely reported migraine symptoms. According to Aurora, however, alcohol consumption isn’t just a question of what’s considered a safe amount.

Can I drink during a migraine attack?

When it comes to depressants like drugs or alcohol, such substances often release neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine when they first hit the body. “Initially, this results in a euphoric high,” says Norman Rosenthal, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School. But that sense of euphoria quickly diminishes and “a rebound effect” occurs, he explains. This often leads to feelings of depression or anxiety in many users. Side effects of DTs include visual and auditory hallucinations, increased body temperature, increased heart rate, increased body temperature, high blood pressure, and sweating.

“Hydration is probably the biggest protective factor against headache. A well-hydrated person is the least likely to experience headaches or to have the least intensity of headache,” Moore says. You can also consider drinking a hydration Art Therapy for Drug & Alcohol Addiction Recovery supplement like Cove’s Oasis to boost that effect. 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.

Will alcohol help a headache?

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. Whether or not alcohol is a migraine headache trigger is debatable. While some people do experience migraine headaches after drinking alcohol, not everyone does. If you’ve identified alcohol as a trigger for your migraine headaches, avoiding it altogether is probably best.

People who experience a headache after drinking should not assume that it is a migraine, especially if they have symptoms consistent with other types of headaches. For example, a tension headache may cause pain in the neck or shoulders. Having a mild intolerance to alcohol or something else in alcoholic beverages might not require a trip to a doctor. Simply avoid alcohol, limit how much you drink or avoid certain types of alcoholic beverages. There are a variety of compounds in alcohol that can cause post-alcohol related headaches.

However, in some countries, the occurrence of alcohol as headache trigger is negligible, perhaps determined by alcohol habits. The frequency estimates vary widely based on the study approach and population. In fact, prospective studies report a limited importance of ADs as migraine trigger. If ADs are capable of triggering practically all primary headaches, they should act at a common pathogenetic level. The mechanisms of alcohol-provoking headache were discussed in relationship to the principal pathogenetic theories of primary headaches. Migraine is very common, affecting one in five women, one in 16 men, and even one in 11 children.

  • Since alcohol has a dehydrating effect, drinking 16 ounces of water between each alcoholic beverage can help offset alcohol-related dehydration.
  • It can’t prevent a migraine, but it can help stop one after it starts.
  • Some people may experience an alcohol-related migraine between 30 minutes and 3 hours after drinking.
  • A well-hydrated person is the least likely to experience headaches or to have the least intensity of headache,” Moore says.
  • A 2019 study surveyed people with migraine who drank alcohol.

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