If you’ve ever over indulged in drinking, then you know how horrible that pounding next morning headache can feel. Alcohol-induced headaches, also known as hangovers, are almost guaranteed when we drink in excess. However, for some people, even one or two drinks can trigger a severe headache.
Fortunately, we know something about why hangover headaches occur, and what we can do to minimize them.
Why do we get alcohol-related headaches?
Alcohol is a common migraine trigger, for a couple of different reasons
1. First of all, alcohol is known as a vasodilator. This means that it causes the blood vessels in the body to dilate, or expand. This is what causes the reddening of the face in an individual who has been drinking. Dilation of the blood vessels in the brain is thought to be the cause of a migraine, so this response to alcohol may trigger a migraine in individuals who are prone to migraines. Even a small amount of alcohol may cause the blood vessels to dilate.
What substances inside of alcohol are responsible for causing a headache?
There are also substances in alcoholic beverages that some people are more sensitive to.
One of these substances is the amino acid tyramine – a well-known trigger for migraine or cluster headaches. Tyramine is found in red wine and champagne, as well as dark alcoholic beverages like scotch and beer.
Congener, a chemical found in some alcohols, can also cause headaches in some individuals. Congeners are believed to trigger headaches because they make slight changes to the chemical composition of the body. Hard liquors, especially darker, amber liquors, usually contain more congeners than lighter liquors.
NOTE: excessive alcohol consumption can cause problems beyond a headache, so be careful if and when you choose to drink.
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