Why Does Alcohol Give Me a Headache? A Doctor’s Tips for Imbibing

Congeners are primarily found in darker liquors like brandy, whiskey, and wine. There are exceptions to this rule, however, such as tequila—a light-colored liquor that nevertheless carries high levels of congeners. In the end, it is important to check with your doctor to see what is causing the headaches and get his or her opinion on the symptoms. However, if the doctor finds no specific cause for the headaches, and says it is likely tied to your quitting alcohol recently, don’t freak out and think that they will never go away. PAWS symptoms of headaches, anxiety, nausea and even the mental symptoms of depression, shame, or worry do lessen over time. If you didn’t seek medical alcohol detox during the acute withdrawal period, you should consult a physician to check for any underlying conditions.

What alcohol is most damaging to the liver?

"Hard liquor contains more alcohol than beer or wine, making it more dangerous for your liver," continues Coleman. "A single shot of 80-proof hard liquor contains about 15 grams of alcohol and most shots contain even more alcohol than this." Another alcoholic beverage also takes a considerable toll on your liver.

Therefore, it is not uncommon to see alcohol withdrawal headaches, anxiety and other symptoms come back in weekly or monthly cycles of intensity. Dr. Green cautions, however, that stopping drinking may not resolve the entire problem. That’s likely because there are other underlying migraine triggers, such as certain foods, caffeine, fluctuating hormones, and stress. Histamine intolerance, which results from a disequilibrium of accumulated histamine and the capacity for histamine degradation, has been recently reviewed .

Is alcohol per se or another component of alcoholic drinks the headache trigger?

Not drinking is easier said than done for some, but it is the only proven, time-honored way to prevent alcohol-induced headache disorders. Having another drink may temporarily curb withdrawal symptoms and make you feel better. But unless alcohol and headaches you intend to keep drinking, the alcohol levels in your body will eventually drop, causing a headache anyway. And, of course, continuing to drink to avoid hangover symptoms can increase your risk of alcohol dependence in the long run.

How long does an alcohol headache last?

How long does it take for a hangover headache to go away? It generally takes around 24 hours for a hangover headache to go away completely.

Some people experience a headache within three hours of consuming alcohol. Pain is usually on both sides of the head and has a pulsating quality to it. In many cases, people suffering from an immediate alcohol-induced headache will have trouble engaging in physical activity. Symptoms don’t usually last more than 72 hours after the last drink.

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For most people, alcohol withdrawal headaches will begin four to six hours after drinking and last around three days. In more severe withdrawal cases, debilitating headaches may last longer. Photo by Zach Rowlandson on UnsplashBecause your body views alcohol as a toxic substance, it’s perfectly normal to experience a headache from drinking alcohol. Alcohol’s effects on your body include dehydration, inflammation, reduced sleep quality, and the buildup of toxic substances—all of which can give you a headache.

  • Beer Gifts for the Holidays Colsters, Coolers, and Koozies, oh my!
  • These factors are influenced by the duration of heavy drinking, level of alcohol consumption, and more.
  • Join a candid conversation about building coping skills to address anxious feelings while navigating sobriety or moderation.
  • The tables below group alcohol types by the amount of these additives.
  • While toxic in large amounts, small amounts of ethanol produce the pleasant “buzz” that people experience when tipsy or drunk.
  • Exercise, laughter, or meditation might bebetter ways to blow off steam.

The effects of alcohol intoxication are relatively predictable based on measured blood alcohol content. Sugar can deplete levels of B vitamins in the body, and tannins and sulfites can cause a histamine reaction in sensitive people. All of these factors will mean fewer drinks before a headache kicks in. Note that to qualify as a cocktail (or delayed alcohol-induced) headache, the pain must start within three hours of drinking. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about your “cocktail headache” plan. For example, if you experience migraines and notice that alcohol triggers your migraine headache then taking one of your migraine therapies at the start of your headache may be best. Sipping a fizzing glass of champagne or a soothing glass of red wine during the holidays can be a pleasurable experience.