Alcohol: myth, magic and migraine (part 3)
Effects of alcohol on migraine
The relationship between alcohol and headache is complex. As discussed above, alcohol can cause headaches as part of post intoxication syndrome of a hangover. Typically occurring within several hours of the cessation of drinking, hangovers generally consist of nausea, abdominal discomfort, headache and psychological symptoms. Frequent hangovers generally lead to worsening social, educational and employment functioning. The treatment of hangovers is fraught with mythology. It seems that everyone has a recommendation: from consumption of raw eggs, fat heavy foods, to coffee and more alcohol. There is little evidence supporting any of these interventions beyond the general recommendations of avoiding alcohol.
Alcohol can also enact its effect on headache in other ways. Some migraine sufferers have found alcohol to be a direct trigger for their events, without waiting for the withdrawal period. Others have speculated that “darker alcohols” including red wine and certain distilled spirits may have a greater chance of inducing a migraine. But, the fact is that all alcohol has the risk of acting as a trigger. To date, no evidence has demonstrated that the tannins, sulfates or sulfites in commercial alcohol has any greater risk of being a migraine inducer.