Why Does Alcohol Give Me a Headache?

Why Does Alcohol Give Me a Headache?

Who doesn’t enjoy having a glass of wine or beer with a group of friends or family? Drinking alcohol is a pleasurable experience until you wake up the next day with a bad headache. Have you ever wondered, why does alcohol give me a headache?

Well, this is a common problem among those who experience regular episodes of migraines. For those who are prone to migraine headaches, drinking even a slight amount of alcohol can trigger an episode. 

While experiencing a dreaded hangover after the night of having a couple of drinks is normal. However, having a bad headache the same evening that too just after a glass of cocktail isn’t normal. 

But why does alcohol give me a headache and why is it so much worse for some people? Let’s take a closer look at why alcohol causes headaches.

Why do I Get a Bad Headache After Drinking Alcohol?

It is quite common to experience headaches after drinking alcohol. The main reason is that alcohol has an effect on the kidney which results in dehydration. The water level in your body drops when you drink which can cause a headache.

Additionally, factors such as hormones, Acetaldehyde, dehydration, insomnia, and more can influence your chances of getting a headache from drinking.

You go to the bathroom more frequently after drinking and the level of fluid in your body gets lower. This is the main cause of alcohol-induced headaches.

If you are in Scottsdale and frequently experience headaches after consuming alcohol, seeking alcohol detox in Scottsdale may provide the support you need to break free from this cycle.

There are two types of headaches that you might experience after consuming alcohol. Take a look below.


Hangovers happen to most people the morning after they drink. Normally, a hangover comes on around 10 hours after your blood alcohol peaks.

Though, it can vary according to sex, weight, and gender disposition. A hangover can last a few hours or even a day. When having a hangover you can have a headache, feel tired, very disoriented, and sometimes nauseous.


If you regularly get episodes of migraine — drinking too much alcohol can trigger migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches.

Migraines can occur while you are drinking or after a few hours of drinking — even if you had just one drink. 

What Causes Headaches After Drinking Alcohol?

There are several factors that can contribute to alcohol-related headaches which are discussed below:


Alcohol is a diuretic. In simple words, it means it has effects on kidneys due to which you urinate more frequently, lowering the level of fluid in your body.


While for some people alcohol makes sit easy to fall asleep, for other people it can disturb the rest and result in headache the next morning.

Hormonal Imbalance

Alcohol can increase the level of stress hormone that results in severe tension and anxiety including headaches.


This is a toxic compound that builds up in your body when you drink alcohol and can cause headaches. 

Which Alcohol Triggers Headaches?

Red wine is the type of alcohol that is most often reported to trigger bad headaches. There is even scientific evidence that suggests that ingredients in red wine can trigger migraine in people.

White wine has higher levels of sulfites and therefore could also be blamed for headaches. 

In addition to wine, other alcoholic beverages such as beer, whiskey, brandy, and Vodka can trigger headaches. 

Substances such as histamine, sulfites, and tyramines are higher in alcohol and therefore contribute to headaches.

People who have an intolerance to histamine and sulfites are more likely to experience headaches after consuming alcohol. 

What is in the Alcohol That Causes Migraine?

If you’re prone to migraine, you might already know that there are many things that can trigger your migraines — from stress to weather conditions, high-pitched voice, and lights. Alcohol is also another trigger for most people who have migraines. 

Congener is a byproduct of alcohol that serves as a trigger point for migraine. Dark-colored alcohol such as red wine, whiskey, and brandy have a higher amount of congener. 

Another chemical histamine that is present in the alcohol spurs your immune system which boosts inflammation throughout your body.

A chemical ‘ethanol’ when enters your body triggers migraines. It makes you pee more and as a result, the water level in your body drops. The presence of all such chemicals in alcohol results in headaches especially in people who experience episodes of alcohol.

How Soon After Consuming Alcohol Can Headache Begin?

For immediate alcohol-induced headaches, also called a ‘cocktail headache’ — You could get a headache within half an hour to 3 hours of drinking alcohol.

Those having cocktail headaches will experience pain on both sides of the head. This type of headache will last up to 72 hours. 

However, for delayed alcohol-induced alcohol, you will notice the onset around 12 hours of drinking. This is typically referred to as a ‘hangover’ headache. 

How Much Alcohol Can Cause Headache?

You may think a glass of red wine won’t cause any headache. This is so not true especially if experience regular migraines.

How much alcohol cause headache is totally unpredictable. One time, you might drink a lot and not experience any headache while the other time just a glass of beer leaves you with a pounding head. However, there are certain factors that might play a role in causing a headache. 

  • Your overall health
  • The quality of alcohol
  • How much water you intake in between
  • What kind of alcohol you’re drinking

How to Prevent Headache When Drinking Alcohol?

If you know alcohol triggers your headache, the best way to prevent is by stopping drinking alcohol completely. Though, we know it isn’t that easy. You can limit the amount of alcohol you consume to prevent your headaches.

Cutting back on alcohol has many benefits including reducing the chances of getting a migraine. Slow down your pace. Drink alcohol at a slower rate. 

Another tip is to drink plenty of water. Have a glass of water after every alcoholic drink. This will keep your body hydrated.

If despite your best efforts, you have one drink too many and wake up with a hangover, you may want to consider a hangover IV in Las Vegas or your home city. This treatment can help alleviate your hangover symptoms and get rid of your headache quickly. Learn more about hangover IV Las Vegas.

Eating honey before consuming alcohol can reduce the chances of migraine. Also, do not drink alcohol empty stomach. Make sure you have alcohol with a proper meal. 

Final Thoughts

Alcohol can cause many health-related problems and headache is one of them. This can be very uncomfortable.

However, gaining a greater understanding of these headaches can help you in battling them. 

If nothing seems to help, consult a doctor. Your doctor might be able to recommend you some medications to prevent migraines and severe headaches. 

About the author

Johnny is dedicated to providing useful information on commonly asked questions on the internet. He is thankful for your support ♥

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