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Headaches Treatment in Murfreesboro

Why does alcohol give me a headache

Some people get headaches or migraines after drinking alcohol. It’s not always the alcohol itself causing it; Sometimes, it’s the extra stuff added to the drinks.

These can include chemicals like sulfites, histamines, and tannins in wine, or byproducts called congeners in darker alcohols. These additives can trigger headaches in some individuals, especially if they’re sensitive to them.

In this article, we will look at why some people get headaches from drinking alcohol, the different types of headaches it can cause, which types of alcohol are more likely to trigger headaches, and how to prevent these headaches.

Can Alcohol Trigger A Migraine?

Although researchers have explored various reasons why alcohol might lead to headaches, they haven’t conclusively confirmed the connection between the two.

Sensitivity to specific ingredients in alcohol

Alcoholic drinks contain a substance called ethanol, which makes blood vessels in the body expand, a process known as vasodilation. This can potentially lead to migraines, especially in individuals prone to headaches or migraines even without alcohol.

Alcoholic beverages also contain substances called congeners, which can trigger migraine headaches in some people. Red wine, in particular, has a compound called histamine, which is known to cause vascular headaches, according to scientific research.

Genetic Predisposition and Ethnicity

People from various ethnic backgrounds can have different responses to alcohol. Genes related to opioid, serotonin, and dopamine systems also have an impact on alcohol sensitivity. These genes can influence the chances of experiencing things like headaches even after consuming small quantities of alcohol.

Body Weight and Gender

Research indicates that women are more prone to experiencing hangovers, memory issues, and liver problems when they drink alcohol. Several factors can explain this trend. For instance, women typically weigh less than men on average. People with lower body weights can’t handle as much alcohol as those with higher weights. Consequently, the alcohol concentration in a woman’s blood tends to be higher, increasing the likelihood of headaches and hangovers.


Alcohol consumption makes the kidneys release more fluid, resulting in increased urination and potential dehydration, which can lead to a headache even after consuming a small amount of alcohol. It’s important to remember to stay well-hydrated when drinking alcohol.

Two Types of Alcohol-Induced Headache

Immediate Alcohol-Induced Headaches (Cocktail Headache)

This form of alcohol-induced headache happens shortly after consuming alcohol. It’s not common, but most patients have reported it happening within a few hours of taking an alcoholic beverage or drink. However, it usually resolves within 72 hours.

Those suffering from this type of alcohol-induced headache will experience at least one of the following symptoms:

  • Pulsating or throbbing sensation, especially on both sides of the hair.
  • Patients usually feel like the brain is a drum.
  • Headaches increase in intensity, and it’s typically aggravated by physical activity.

It’s worth stating even though this type of headache is much rarer, it can easily be triggered with a small amount of alcohol.

Delayed Alcohol-Induced Headaches

The delayed alcohol-induced headache is the most common type of headache. It is also known as a hangover headache. It usually occurs around 12 hours or the following day after drinking alcohol. The blood alcohol level would have fallen during this period and reached zero.

This form of headache shares similar symptoms to the immediate headache. However, in most cases, the pain is duller and gives a throbbing sensation. Anybody can experience this delayed headache, but people with migraines are more prone to it. Migraine patients can experience it with moderate consumption of alcoholic drinks or beverages.

Ways to prevent or remedy headaches caused by alcohol

The best way to prevent alcohol-related headaches is by avoiding alcohol. Men should limit their daily alcohol intake to two drinks or fewer, while women should aim for one drink or less.

Since dehydration can trigger headaches, it’s crucial to stay well-hydrated when drinking alcohol. Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after alcohol consumption is essential.

Avoid using over-the-counter pain medications before or after drinking, as they can strain the liver and irritate the stomach lining. The most effective remedy for alcohol-induced headaches is still under research, but these headaches typically go away on their own with time.

If a headache persists or worsens, it’s advisable to see a doctor for an examination and treatment recommendations.


Even a small amount of alcohol can cause headache symptoms in some people. These symptoms can start shortly after drinking and vary in how bad they are. Certain additives in drinks can make it more likely to get a headache from alcohol. If you often get headaches, you might be more at risk.

To reduce the chance of getting a headache, it’s essential to stay hydrated and limit how much alcohol you drink. If you get severe headaches after drinking, you might want to avoid alcohol altogether.

You can do many things, including chiropractic care, food shifts, and many lifestyle changes to avoid these headaches. Visit Revolution Chiropractic Murfreesboro or call 615-867-7693 to learn more. We will conduct tests to find the trigger for your headache. We will then determine lifestyle changes and give dietary changes that help reduce your headache attacks and improve your overall health.

Watch Video To Know More About Headache Triggers
About The Author
photo of Dr Oscar Noriega DC
Dr. Oscar Noriega, DC, is a trusted chiropractor who has been practicing for over ten years at Revolution Chiropractic Murfreesboro. He holds a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Northwestern Health Sciences University. Dr. Noriega is also a member of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and the Tennessee Chiropractic Association. He resides in Murfreesboro with his wife and two children.