Things You Need To Know About Alcohol-Induced Headaches


Alcohol-induced headaches are one of the common problems people face when it comes to alcohol. It can inflict anyone, whether you are new to drinking or a long-term drinker, and can cause pain-inducing symptoms from short-term pulsing sensations to migraines. Here are some things you should know about alcohol-induced headaches and tips on how to deal with them. And if you’re struggling with alcoholism, be sure to seek treatment to take you one step closer to sober living.

So What Actually Causes The Headache?

A diuretic is the main reason for an alcohol-induced headache as it puts pressure on the kidneys and causes the one to release more fluid than one is taking in. Constant trips to the toilet can rapidly cause dehydration, especially if one is not consuming a good amount of water or non-alcoholic drinks. As the fluids lost are not being replaced quickly enough, a painful headache ensues as a result.

Can Alcohol Trigger A Migraine?

Drinking alcohol may unfortunately lead to the development of migraines as it relaxes the blood vessels and causes an influx of blood flowing into the brain. This sudden rush of blood can cause a painful migraine and is also the reason why alcohol is avoided among those who experience migraines often. One-third of the people who suffer from regular migraines claim that alcohol is one of the main factors in causing their symptoms.

What’s In Alcohol That Causes Headaches?

Ethanol is one of the main reasons why alcohol results in the development of headaches and migraines as it causes dilation in blood vessels. The further loss of fluids in the body due to alcohol impairs body functions as vital nutrients are missing. Constant consumption of ethanol can also lead to long-term chemical imbalances in the body, which may result in other health consequences other than headaches.

Types Of Alcohol Induced Headache

1. Immediate Alcohol-Induced Headaches

Also known as a ‘cocktail’ headache, this occurs shortly after consuming a drink. While it is more uncommon, it usually develops within 3 hours and disappears in 72 hours from the last drink taken. Common symptoms are constant pulses on both ends of one’s head and an increase in severity when moving actively.

2. Delayed Alcohol-Induced Headaches

People are more likely to experience delayed headaches rather than the immediate alcohol-induced headaches. This type of headache develops after 12 hours of consuming alcohol and consists of a throbbing pain in the skull. It is also known as the hangover headache, which can last from 24 to 72 hours. Taking lots of rest and staying hydrated are some of the ways to improve these symptoms.

How Much Alcohol Causes A Headache?

The probability of a headache happening differs from person to person. From consuming a single drink to multiple bottles, there are many factors that determine one’s tolerance and susceptibility to alcohol-induced headaches. You might find that the quality of alcohol being consumed plays a part in whether you develop headaches or the amount of water you consume while drinking. Sometimes this can also be determined by one’s overall health, and the type of alcoholic drink you are consuming.

It is important to know what specifically influences your alcohol-induced headaches as this can be different for everyone. Also, be aware that these factors may not be as consistent as you think as sometimes the probability of you developing headaches may be unpredictable.

Which Type Of Alcohol Is Least Likely To Cause A Headache?


Although all forms of alcohol are bound to eventually cause headaches to some extent, there may be some drinks that do this better than others. Evidence has shown that vodka causes the least amount of hangover headaches, and mixing it with lemonade and tonic water can further prevent the onset of headaches. On the other hand, red wine seems to be the most headache-inducing alcoholic drink. This is also followed by white wine and champagne.

This can be attributed to what is included in your favorite alcoholic drinks. One of the ingredients to be blamed could be histamine that is most commonly found in wine. This ingredient causes allergic reactions in a handful of people, and in general, red wine is known to have 200 times more histamine than white wine. As for alcoholic drinks that have aged for plenty of years, they are likely to cause bad reactions as well. For instance, tannins from the skin of grapes and relatively increasing amounts of sugar that are contained in wine can result in headaches and cause dehydration in the body as a whole.

How To Avoid Headaches When Drinking

While the most effective way to prevent headaches is to cease all alcohol consumption. However, this may not always be possible, especially when it comes to social activities as alcohol can always be found as an accompanying drink. If you are a long-term drinker attempting to reduce alcohol consumption, this may also prove to be detrimental as this can cause withdrawal symptoms in your body. Medical help is highly recommended if you do decide to quit or reduce alcohol as a regular or long-term drinker.

Some ways you can prevent alcohol before drinking is knowing what triggers your headaches and by pacing out your drinks. If you are already suffering from a headache, painkillers can be consumed to relieve the pain. Constantly keep your body hydrated to prevent the negative side effects of dehydration; and apart from water, drinking bouillon and fruit drinks can help to restore the chemical balances in your body as well as replace lost fluids and minerals. Your diet can also play a big part in recovering from a headache. In particular, consuming eggs, fruits, and vegetables can help to battle the toxins in your body.


While we all know that alcohol results in health risks, common headaches are one of the most uncomfortable experiences drinkers often have to battle after drinking. Though natural remedies such as drinking lots of water and eating healthy foods can help to combat the pain, simply ceasing your alcohol intake is still the best way to prevent these headaches from happening. Medication is also one way to soothe the pain.

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