Alcohol and migraine: trigger factor, consumption, mechanisms A review PMC

understanding alcohol induced headaches

However, this is actually a negative sign that could indicate dependency. After tolerance is developed, once alcohol is removed, the brain experiences what is called hyperexcitability. Headaches are a common consequence of this altered neurological state.

  • Alcohol disrupts frontal cortex functioning, leading to poor judgment, difficulty weighing options logically, and increased impulsivity.
  • The ALDH2 inhibition by selected phenolic compounds was measured using the QuantiChrom™ aldehyde dehydrogenase inhibitor screening kit (EIAL-100, BioAssay systems, USA) as per the manufacturer’s instruction.
  • Some alcohol consumers exhibit flushing and experience headaches, and this is attributed to a dysfunctional ALDH2 variant, the enzyme that metabolizes acetaldehyde, allowing it to accumulate.
  • The frontal cortex is the brain’s center for higher-order functions like planning, decision-making, and impulse control.

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understanding alcohol induced headaches

Alcohol is identified as an occasional trigger in about a third of people who experience migraine headaches, but it’s only a consistent trigger in about 10 percent of migraine sufferers. Migraine is a disabling disease that no one should have to go through alone. It’s essential to build a support network of understanding people who can not only check in on you during an attack but also empathize with your experience.

Associated Data

  • This will be helpful in guiding conversations with your doctor about your symptoms.
  • However, these limitations are to some extent discounted by the number of studies included and the cultural diversity of participants.
  • For many, the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are enough to prevent them from quitting alcohol altogether.
  • Mango, thyme, ginger, and asparagus are known to contain helpful properties for this purpose.

First of all, the existing studies present data in a heterogeneous way, which may have led to inaccurate results, and do not provide an exhaustive array of information. Information on the gender of participants was unavailable for analysis. So, the question of who is drinking more with a primary headache is still to be addressed. Additionally, only a few of the studies divided participants into migraine with and without aura. Therefore, there was insufficient data to analyze the relationship between alcohol and aura, and the data that does exist is inconsistent [65, 86].

understanding alcohol induced headaches

What to know about alcohol and migraine

Understanding these mechanisms can help us make informed choices and take steps to prevent or manage alcohol-related headaches. Studies have shown that alcoholic drinks act as a trigger for migraines in up to one-third of patients. Alcohol is a diuretic that increases urine production and can lead to dehydration. This work considered the alcoholic drinks and other triggering factors taken the day before onset of headache. Some studies report that alcohol provokes headache within 30 min to 3 h; principally the red wine [9–11]. Others consider an evaluation period of 6 [12] or 24 h [13], while some affirm that headaches appear frequently the next morning/day [10, 14].

  • Others consider an evaluation period of 6 [12] or 24 h [13], while some affirm that headaches appear frequently the next morning/day [10, 14].
  • Drinking dark liquors (such as whiskey) tends to lead to more severe hangovers due to chemicals called congeners in the drinks.
  • In Europe, 60% of adults over 60 years of age are current drinkers, and 20% of these had higher levels of consumption than the general population [22].
  • As alcohol enters the bloodstream and reaches the brain, it binds to certain neurotransmitters (substances that facilitate communication between nerve cells) like gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate.

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In fact, an inverse relationship between density and metabolic functioning of regional brain 5-HT system and alcohol preference was repeatedly reported in animal studies [69–72]. In females with migraine, there was a significantly higher percentage of nonconsumers of alcohol than that reported in national studies on the population, using the same parameters, in females of the same region [35] (Fig. 2). Of the 58 nonconsumer why does alcohol give me a migraine patients, 16 were abstainers but the others have consumed some type of alcoholic drinks during their life without the development of headache. In this study, six subjects of the consumer group identified white wine as a trigger, while two subjects reported red wine and two both the types of wine in the nonconsumer group (Table 3). After using the above key terms, 1,892 articles were identified in the three databases.

understanding alcohol induced headaches

Receiving a formal migraine diagnosis is the first milestone when working with your doctor to identify a personalized and effective treatment plan. Continuing to talk with your doctor throughout the course of your treatment is important for determining the strategies that prove beneficial and those that may not be as effective. Having a strong network of people who validate your experience and support you on the good days and bad is so valuable when you live with an invisible illness like migraine.

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