It’s the time of year for drinking green beer

St. Patty’s Day is officially here

But headaches await, if you read this too late

So look through these hints and face the day with no fear!

Many migraineurs already know that alcohol can trigger a headache.  Migraine sufferers are less likely to drink alcohol, studies have shown.  For some people, wine is the main culprit, but other forms of alcohol can trigger, including beer and liquor.  In fact, some studies suggest that alcohol in these other forms is just as often or more often a trigger. Several studies have looked at various ingredients in wine that may be acting as triggers, including tannins, tyramines, histamines and sulfites, but none of these has consistently panned out.

There are 2 main types of migraine triggered by alcohol, acute migraine occurs within 2-3 hours of drinking alcohol, and a second delayed type, which occurs the next day.  Often referred to as a hangover, the delayed type headache is usually much worse in a migraine sufferer than a non-migraine sufferer.

When people drink alcohol, they may get dehydrated, which can possibly lower the threshold for a headache, and if you drink alcohol and skip dinner or eat unhealthier foods while out at that party, these dietary issues may also be the culprit.  

It is likely that a combination of factors surrounding alcohol intake contribute to headaches.  So, before you partake, read through these tips.

  1. Drink plenty of water in between alcoholic beverages
  2. Limit your drinking to 1 or 2 drinks
  3. Eat with your beverage, something healthy
  4. Avoid sugary, and sugary drinks
  5. Before you go out, have a snack, so you don’t go too long without eating
  6. get a good night’s sleep

You should talk to your doctor about how drinking alcohol might affect you, and your headaches.  Review with your doc what treatments are available to you to remedy this type of headache. If dehydrated and nauseous, sometimes IV treatments can help a lot, too.\

By:  Audrey Halpern, MD, BC in Headache Medicine