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Is it a Hangover or a True Migraine?

Ask almost any person who battles chronic migraines about their most prominent migraine trigger, and he or she will likely name alcohol as the biggest culprit.

However, determining whether or not alcohol is a true migraine trigger can be tricky. After all, too much alcohol consumption can result in a pounding “hangover” — which, clinically, is NOT a migraine. But for those with alcohol-triggered migraines, even just a sip of an alcoholic beverage can launch an attack.

Alcohol as a True Migraine Trigger

How prevalent is a alcohol-triggered migraine? Very prevalent. About a third of sufferers say that alcoholic beverages trigger their attacks.

Early written references of alcohol provoking migraines date back to the words of Celsus (25 B.C.-50 A.D.) “the pain…is contracted…by drinking wine.” Another early reference is found by Paul of Aegina (625-690 A.D.) who also wrote of the relationship between drinking wine and migraines.

So, what is it about alcohol that causes migraines?

Scientists say certain chemicals in alcohol, such as tyramine and histamine are believed to act on chemicals in the brain, kicking off the series of events that leads to a migraine attack.

Because alcohol use can increase with stress, some researchers believe it is a combination of the alcohol and stress which sets migraine attack in motion.

Biggest Risk Factors: Red or White Wine?

Different studies report different findings on which type of wine triggers the most migraine attacks.

For example, a European study found that 11% of migraine sufferers pointed to red wine as the most common trigger. However, a French study showed that 54% of the alcohol-induced migraine attacks came after drinking white wine. Histamine, which may be responsible for triggering migraines, is found in far higher quantities in red wine than in white. Red wine contains 20-to-200 times the amount of histamine than white wine.

Incidentally, research indicates that women are more likely to have migraines triggered by red wine than men.


Does alcohol trigger your migraines? If so, how often? And, what offers you the best relief?

No one should have to live with chronic migraines. Many forms of treatment are available, including the revolutionary TruDenta migraine treatment offered here at Pasadena Pain Management. This advanced form of migraine treatment — which includes the use of cutting-edge dental technology and precision therapy — has brought relief to many patients in Southern California.

Contact us today for a FREE CONSULTATION and to see if you qualify for TruDenta migraine treatment.