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How is alcohol linked to migraine headaches?

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Alcohol’s exact role in triggering a migraine isn’t fully known. Many things are probably at play. For instance, alcohol byproducts called congeners have been linked to headaches. Dark-colored alcohols like red wine, brandy, and whiskey may contain more of them. Alcohol not only contains a chemical called histamine, it also spurs your immune system to make more. This boosts inflammation throughout your body. A chemical called ethanol is alcohol’s main ingredient. Once it gets into your system, it is converted into a chemical that triggers migraine. Ethanol is also a natural diuretic. That means it makes you urinate more than normal. All of these things can set you up for a migraine.

SOURCES:

Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice : “Alcohol consumption and hangover patterns among migraine sufferers.”

NHS Choices: “Antihistamines -- How They Work,” “Migraines -- Causes.”

Mayo Clinic: “Migraine: Symptoms and Causes.”

Current Pain and Headache Reports: “Alcohol and Migraine: What Should We Tell Patients?”

American Migraine Foundation: “Understanding Migraine: Alcohol and Migraine.”            

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Hangover Headache.”

National Headache Foundation: “Alcohol and Headaches,” “Facts About Triptans.”

The Journal of Headache and Pain : “Alcohol and migraine: trigger factor, consumption, mechanisms. A review.”

National Stroke Association: “Ischemic Stroke.”

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: “What Is a Standard Drink?”

Drugs Under Experimental and Clinical Research : “Wine and migraine: compatibility or incompatibility?”

Reviewed by Stephen D. Silberstein on July 17, 2017

SOURCES:

Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice : “Alcohol consumption and hangover patterns among migraine sufferers.”

NHS Choices: “Antihistamines -- How They Work,” “Migraines -- Causes.”

Mayo Clinic: “Migraine: Symptoms and Causes.”

Current Pain and Headache Reports: “Alcohol and Migraine: What Should We Tell Patients?”

American Migraine Foundation: “Understanding Migraine: Alcohol and Migraine.”            

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Hangover Headache.”

National Headache Foundation: “Alcohol and Headaches,” “Facts About Triptans.”

The Journal of Headache and Pain : “Alcohol and migraine: trigger factor, consumption, mechanisms. A review.”

National Stroke Association: “Ischemic Stroke.”

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: “What Is a Standard Drink?”

Drugs Under Experimental and Clinical Research : “Wine and migraine: compatibility or incompatibility?”

Reviewed by Stephen D. Silberstein on July 17, 2017

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