Inhibition of ALDH2 by quercetin glucuronide suggests a new hypothesis to explain red wine headaches Scientific Reports

understanding alcohol induced headaches

Excessive drinking also commonly causes vision changes, such as blurred vision, double vision, or difficulty focusing. Alcohol impairs the signals from the eyes to the brain and affects the muscles that control eye movement, leading to weakened eye-muscle control and decreased peripheral vision (seeing to your left and right sides). Alcohol causes irritation and inflammation along your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, disrupting normal digestive function. Evidence suggests that certain alcoholic beverages, such as wine and beer, appear to accelerate the movement of food and waste through the digestive system, which can lead to diarrhea. Alcohol’s impact on cognitive functioning can also make it challenging for people drinking alcohol to form and verbally express coherent thoughts. The short-term effects of alcohol appear quickly, typically within minutes after consuming your first drink.

understanding alcohol induced headaches

Determination of ALDH2 inhibition by phenolic compounds

Some studies on the alcohol habits in migraine patients show a low percentage of drinkers in migraine patients. This was supposed to be due to previous experiences of alcohol as headache trigger, but one study does not agree [34]. Certainly, if a less alcohol preference in migraine patients will be confirmed in large controlled studies, it merits a correlation with 5-HT system, which is involved in migraine pathogenesis in some way.

The possible triggering site

If you’re interested in connecting with more people in the migraine community, we recommend joining our Facebook support group, Move Against Migraine. There, you will find a wonderful community of people who are ready to listen and lift each other up. Finding a community of people who understand exactly what you’re going through is like being welcomed home after a long, tiring day. Our Move Against Migraine support group is a place for you to connect with others (via Facebook) who live with migraine to exchange stories and find community and support.

understanding alcohol induced headaches

What alcohol to drink to avoid migraine attacks

understanding alcohol induced headaches

Analysis of the 22 included studies revealed 5 cohort studies [36, 45, 52, 55, 58], 11 cross-sectional [26, 27, 44, 46–48, 51, 56, 57, 59, 60] and six case-controls [49, 50, 53, 54, 61, 62]. A detailed description of risk of bias assessment for the cohort studies is presented in Table ​Table3.3. In cross-sectional studies, six out of the 11 had a high risk of bias [46–48, 51, 56, 60], because they received fewer than 6 positive answers. Table ​Table44 summarizes the assessment of the cross-sectional risk of bias. The steps for case–control assessment are presented in Table ​Table55. Headaches are one of the most common neurological symptoms related to the sensation of pain [1] and cause a decrease in patients’ quality of life [2].

Alcohol-induced psychotic disorder

  • Reducing your alcohol intake is the best way to avoid these headaches completely.
  • In addition to these factors, there are some individuals who are more predisposed to experience headaches during alcohol withdrawal due to a series of genetic factors.

Alcohol-induced psychosis involves experiencing hallucinations, delusions, or both while consuming alcohol or during withdrawal periods. Alcohol-induced psychosis can be used to describe different alcohol-related experiences of psychotic symptoms. It’s not caused by alcohol use, though research suggests people living with schizophrenia are nearly three times more likely to develop AUD or another substance use disorder (SUD). Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder featuring symptoms of hallucinations, delusions, and other experiences of reality distortion. At least one small study has shown some hangover treatment benefits from an over-the-counter remedy that contains milk thistle, thiamine, and antioxidants, but more research is needed.

  • Therefore, there was insufficient data to analyze the relationship between alcohol and aura, and the data that does exist is inconsistent [65, 86].
  • Patients sometimes have a tendency not to admit their drinking habits [90].
  • Other criteria for a person to have a migraine diagnosis include nausea or vomiting and sensitivity to light or noise.
  • In plasma, it appears as conjugates (78–79%), including quercetin-3-glucuronide, quercetin-3-sulfate, and methylated forms such as tamarixetin (10–13%) and isorhamnetin (8.5 to 11%)36,37.
  • However, two conclusive negative studies were found on the relation between oral tyramine and headache attack in dietary and nondietary migraine.
  • Jeffery et al.24 found quercetin-3-glucuronide as the predominant and most stable glycoside, ranging from below detection level to 39.67 mg/L among 121 Australian red wines.

Other medications to help with withdrawal or the effects of alcohol may also help. Your doctor can prescribe medications to help with secondary symptoms like headaches, nausea, mood disturbance, or cravings. In some cases, emergency medical care or a stay in a care facility may be necessary to help with extreme discomfort or to treat delirium. Alcohol-induced psychosis can happen after intoxication, during withdrawal, or it can be chronic among people living with alcohol use disorder (AUD). Hangovers vary in severity and symptoms from person to person and episode to episode.

understanding alcohol induced headaches

One of the six case–control studies was assessed as having a high risk of bias [49], two a low risk of bias [50, 62] and three a moderate bias risk [53, 54, 61]. A 2019 study recognized alcoholic beverages, especially red wine, as a migraine trigger factor for people with migraine. As we have discovered from looking at the types of alcohol-induced headaches, you may experience one from as little as three hours after drinking alcohol. This type of headache is known as the ‘cocktail headache’ and comes on shortly after taking an alcoholic drink. This type of headache is less common, but many people may notice the symptoms developing within 3 hours of drinking.

Can I prevent alcohol withdrawal?

This is a potentially life-threatening situation that requires immediate medical attention. When you consume alcohol, the effects of alcohol on the hippocampus make the formation of long-term memories less likely. Alcohol-related blackouts (gaps in your memory while drinking alcohol) can occur because alcohol hinders the ability of the hippocampus to transfer short-term memory to long-term storage in the brain. Finally, practicing stress-reduction techniques like exercise, meditation, and even deep breathing exercises can help with headaches. Yoga and other mindfulness techniques are especially helpful as they target and alleviate tension while promoting relaxation. These types of exercises are commonly recommended to treat headaches and can help other symptoms of long-term alcohol withdrawal as well.


Alcohol is broken down in the liver by an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase. People with a variant in this enzyme have issues with metabolizing alcohol and can develop total body flushing or reddening of the skin. Keep reading to learn why does alcohol give me a migraine more about the connection between migraine and headache. There have been several proposed explanations for how alcohol causes headaches. If a headache persists or worsens, visit a doctor for an examination and treatment recommendations.

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