Alcohol and migraine: What you need to understand

wine and headache

Many people with migraine find that specific situations trigger their symptoms. Drinking alcohol is a trigger for some people with migraine. Although any type of alcohol can provoke a migraine, people who experience recurrent migraine attacks cite red wine as the most frequent reason.

Research suggests that people with migraine may also suffer comparable symptoms after a hangover. Reducing or eliminating alcohol may reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. It may also help reduce factors that tend to co-occur with drinking, such as dehydration and sleep deprivation.

Keep reading to understand more about the connection between migraine and headache.

Is alcohol capable of causing migraines?

Is it possible for alcohol to trigger migraines?

Migraine is a form of neurological disorder. Although hereditary factors impact the chance of developing migraine, environmental triggers can cause episodes or increase their frequency.

Several studies show that alcohol, especially red wine, may cause migraine episodes.

In a 2018 research including 2,197 adults with migraine, 25% of the participants who had discontinued or always avoided drinking did so because alcohol induced migraine symptoms. More than a third of the subjects stated that alcohol had this impact, with roughly 78% indicating red wine as the most prevalent alcohol trigger.

A 2019 research questioned patients with migraine who consumed alcohol. Of the 1,547 individuals, 783 claimed that alcohol was a trigger, while 195 were not sure. People who experienced migraine with alcohol were more likely to suffer migraine with aura and to experience more migraine days and more frequent episodes. They were also more prone to drink vodka.

A predisposition for migraine may also play a role in hangovers, especially hangovers that induce migraine-like headaches. A 2014 study of 692 students, 95 of whom experienced migraine, indicated that individuals with migraine were more likely to suffer migraine-like symptoms during a hangover. However, these people were not more prone to other hangover symptoms.

Alcohol may also create other sorts of headaches. People who get a headache after drinking should not assume that it is a migraine, especially if they have symptoms associated with other forms of headaches. For example, a stress headache may induce pain in the neck or shoulders.

Other alcohol-related headaches

Migraine creates a unique form of headache that incorporates neurological symptoms such as light sensitivity and aura. Other sorts of headaches, including severe headaches, can occur as a result of alcohol intake.

Hangover headache

A headache is a frequent hangover symptom. Alcohol can provoke symptoms in persons with a headache disease, but it can also directly induce headaches.

A 2015 study shows that the inactivity of alcohol dehydrogenase 2, an enzyme that helps break down alcohol, can contribute to hangover headaches. However, the research author also notes that no one factor causes all hangover headaches.

Tension headache

A 2016 study emphasizes that drinking may induce a tension headache, especially if a person simultaneously suffers migraine. The research revealed that 21 percent of persons with migraine indicate that alcohol is a tension headache trigger, compared with just 2 percent of people without migraine.

Cluster headache

Alcohol may provoke cluster headaches. These headaches induce very strong pain that generally predominantly affects the region behind one eye. More than half of individuals who get cluster headaches indicate that alcohol is a trigger.

Dehydration headache

Alcohol increases urine, which can contribute to dehydration. Moreover, persons who drink alcohol may not drink as much water, exacerbating the water loss. Dehydration can induce headaches. It may also provoke headaches connected to headache diseases, such as migraine.

What alcohol to consume to avoid migraine attacks

Most research point to red wine as a prevalent headache trigger, particularly in those with migraine. These individuals typically report wine, especially red wine, as a migraine trigger.

However, a 2012 research denies this relationship. This prospective research looked at migraine diaries extending up to 90 days. Wine, beer, and spirits did not enhance the risk of migraine with aura, while sparkling wine did.

People who have hangovers that induce a migraine may desire to avoid alcohol with high amounts of congeners. These are compounds that the alcohol production process creates. Some study shows that congeners have a role in hangovers, however variables like as inflammation also contribute.

Brandy, red wine, and rum have the largest quantities of congeners, whereas gin and vodka have fewer of these compounds. However, a 2019 study reported greater rates of vodka use among drinkers with recurrent migraine symptoms. The reaction to alcohol varies from person to person, and there is no drink that certainly will not trigger a migraine or other headache.

Other migraine-prevention options

Identifying and limiting or eliminating common migraine triggers such as alcohol, dehydration, and specific meals is the first step in preventing migraine. For a few weeks, a person should keep a migraine diary to detect trends in their headache patterns.

Stress-related migraines may be relieved with relaxation techniques, and migraine episodes may feel less severe when they occur.

Migraine prophylaxis drugs such as topiramate (Topamax), divalproex (Depakote), or propranolol may be useful for people who suffer frequent migraine attacks (Inderal). They can talk to a doctor about these therapy alternatives.

People who suffer from migraines while or after drinking may consider limiting or eliminating alcohol from their diet. If they find this too difficult, they may be suffering from an alcohol use disorder, which need therapy.


Migraine attacks can range from minor inconveniences to complete debilitation. The most severe migraine headaches can last up to three days and render you unable to work. In rare cases, a migraine attack can persist much longer.

Migraine is a complicated disorder, and migraine-like symptoms can be caused by a variety of neurological conditions. As a result, whether you’re drinking or not, it’s critical to consult a doctor if you’re experiencing migraine symptoms or chronic headaches. Migraine headaches can be treated with the appropriate combination of medicines and lifestyle changes.

People who are unable to stop drinking should consult a physician about alcohol use disorder treatment, which is a serious but treatable problem.