An unpleasant consequence of Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache occurs due to consumption of alcoholic beverages in huge amount, i.e., an amount more than a human body can metabolize completely. This type of a headache usually starts a few hours after heavy drinking and also can cause severe biological effects. Even moderate amount of alcohol consumption can lead to headache without any signs of hang-over. This Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache is quite common, occurring in around 60% of the people who consume alcohol. As this type of a headache doesn't result from any underlying health conditions, so it is not obvious to consult any physicians when an individual experience this headache.

Hang-Over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache

Hang-Over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache: An Overview

Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache generally results when one gets up from sleep in the morning after consuming a high amount of alcohol the previous night. This type of a headache happens on both sides of the head or all over the forehead region or just in the temple region of the head. Hang-over headache is just like a drum-beating sensation inside the head which sometimes increases or decreases but gets worsen due to any sorts of physical activity. Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache usually occurs for around 72 hours and thus starts resolving when the excess alcohol in the person's body starts metabolizing and finally alcohol level reduces to zero. This is one of the most common types of a headache among people consuming alcohol who have experienced it at least once in their lives. Women are more prone to face hang-over headache or alcohol induced headache than men after consuming a huge amount of alcoholic beverages.

Symptoms of Hang-Over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache

Usually, hang-over headache or alcohol induced headache is associated with the following symptoms. So, if an individual faces any one of the below symptoms along with mild to a severe headache then it should be understood that he is having hang-over due to high consumption of alcoholic beverages.

  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Hypersalivation
  • Redness of the cheeks
  • Difficulty in steady walking
  • Slowed response
  • Irritability
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Bad breath or Halitosis
  • Feeling thirsty
  • Memory blackouts
  • Decreased sleep
  • Hiccups
  • Poor perceptions accompanied by confusion and difficulty in focusing and concentrating
  • Stomach ache or loss of appetite
  • Increased heartbeat and alteration of blood pressure
  • Moodiness, lethargy, fatigue or tiredness along with shakiness or disturbed motor functions
  • Body aches and muscle cramps mainly in the head and neck muscles
  • Dysphoria
  • Sensitivity to bright light and loud sounds.

Prognosis of Hang-Over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache

It must be noted that everyone is not prone to hang-over headache. People who are already suffering from migraine headaches are more susceptible to this type of headache after drinking alcohol. Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache is a very common condition. Unfortunately, it is poorly understood in terms of its pathophysiology but it gets resolved within 72 hours after the stoppage of consumption of alcoholic beverages. A medical emergency is not required usually; but if the hang-over symptoms along with the headache become worse, then it is advised to consult with a medical practitioner as early as possible.

Why Does Hang-Over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache Occur?

Some potential causes of Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache include dehydration, chemicals in alcohol, alcohol additives, alteration in the brain hormones, ethanol, and an increased level of the byproduct of alcohol metabolism.

  • Dehydration is actually a misbalance of essential fluids in the body and occurs as too much alcohol consumption inhibits the normal biological function of antidiuretic hormone or ADH. As this hormone is inhibited, water is not properly reabsorbed into the body and thus urinated out more than the intake amount.
  • Chemicals present in alcoholic beverages like histamine and tyramine can interact vigorously with brain chemicals to cause a headache.
  • Alcoholic additives or commonly called congeners tend to result in mild to severe Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache in a more frequent manner.
  • Low level of cerebrospinal fluid or CSF may also lead to a Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache as the meninges of the low-lying brain stretches more due to a change in buoyancy.
  • After consuming alcoholic beverages, there is a sudden drop of brain hormones like Endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine which play an important part in causing the
  • Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache accompanied by the euphoria experience.
  • An excess amount of ethanol acts as a depressant as well as a suppressant of various specific brain functions other than dehydration. Thus it leads the body to lose more fluid and ends up affecting fluids surrounding the brain. These results in the reduction of blood pressure and blood flow to the brain by vasodilating the blood vessels of the brain. Therefore, all these changes result in severe Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache.
  • Acetaldehyde, a byproduct of alcohol metabolism irritates different brain tissues including the walls of blood vessels, intracranial tissues, meninges, etc. which leads to inflammation and elicit the headache.

Risk Factors of Hang-Over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache

The probable risk factors that are responsible for causing Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache include the following:

  • Genes: Genetic variation mainly the alleles related to aldehyde dehydrogenase or ALDH and their phenotypes plays a vital role in causing hang-over headache or alcohol induced headache in individuals.
  • Family History of Alcoholism: If any individual has a family history of alcoholism then it may get inherited to further generation and thus those people may face this type of a headache.
  • Age: Hang-over headache or alcohol induced headache generally gets worse as the age increases mainly because of the reducing amount of aldehyde dehydrogenase.
  • Gender: At the same amount of alcoholic drinks, women are more likely to have hang-over headache or alcohol induced headache than men.
  • Alcohol Consumption on an Empty Stomach: Hang-over headache or alcohol induced headache usually occurs when alcoholic beverages are consumed without having any food in the stomach.
  • Lack of Sleep Post Alcohol Consumption: Sometimes hang-over headache or alcohol induced headache happens due to the poor-quality or short sleep cycle followed by a night of alcohol consumption.
  • Smoking Habit: During alcohol consumption along with cigarette smoking, it is believed that acetaldehyde is absorbed which results in hang-over headache or alcohol induced headache.
  • Consumption of Dark-colored Alcoholic Beverages: These types of beverages usually contain a high amount of congeners which is actually responsible for causing hang-over headache or alcohol induced headache.

Diagnosis of Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache

By the following diagnostic criteria, one can easily find out the symptoms and causes of hang-over headache or alcohol induced headache:

  • Headache on both sides of the head
  • Most of the pain occurs all over the front part of the forehead
  • Head pain is throbbing or pulsating
  • The headache as well as discomfort worsens with any sorts of physical activity
  • Headache commonly starts within 3-4 hours of consuming an alcoholic beverage
  • Headache generally resolves within three days after the stoppage of alcohol consumption.

Treatment of Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache

The possible treatments for the hang-over headache or alcohol induced headache include the following:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen are generally used to treat Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache but the usage should be in the limit as the usage of alcohol together with aspirin may cause the risk of liver damage and stomach bleeding.
  • Daily intake of Pyritinol, a synthetic analog of Vitamin B6 helps to decrease Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache and related symptoms.
  • An inhibitor of prostaglandin synthesis, Tolfenamic acid, is thought to reduce Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache including vomiting, nausea, irritation, etc.
  • Water alone is not sufficient but keeps the body rehydrated throughout the day.
  • Try to consume more amounts of bland foods like bread, nuts, or crackers or Fructose-containing foods which may increase blood sugar level by metabolizing the alcohol faster.
  • Try to get enough amount of rest or sleep, so that the chances of recovery become a bit faster. It is best to avoid any kinds of strenuous or night activities during this headache which may disturb the regular sleep pattern of an individual.

Home Remedies for Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache

The probable home remedies to treat Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache are mentioned as follows:

  • Lemon rebalances the body pH level by controlling the normal blood sugar level. In a glass of warm water, add one teaspoon of honey along with two teaspoons of fresh lemon juice and stir and drink slowly as one wakes up from sleep for 2-3 times a day.
  • Being a good source of potassium, 1-2 bananas after dinner at nighttime help to calm down the stomach irritation due to heavy drinking and thus boost the energy level.
  • Consumption of breakfast containing a plain toast and an egg helps to filter out all the impurities from the body and thus reduces the toxic level after heavy drinking.
  • Tomato juice is rich in fructose as well as minerals. Therefore, in a cup of tomato juice or soup add a pinch of cayenne pepper and drink once in the morning and at night.
  • Honey is an excellent source of potassium and fructose and thus helps to metabolize excess alcohol in the body and counteract its toxicity. Thus, 3-4 spoons of honey at one-hour interval help to reduce Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache.
  • Researches have shown that a mixture of tangerine pith, ginger, and brown sugar before heavy consumption of alcohol drinking reduces the chances of nausea, headache, and vomiting.
  • Make a cup of strong black coffee with a few drops of lemon juice and drink twice or thrice a day to get fast relief from Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache.
  • Even one can apply a cold compress to the face and head to get a quick relief from the headache and related symptoms.

Prevention of Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache

The only possible way to prevent a Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache is simply to avoid alcohol. Even if one chooses to drink, then he should do in moderation. Other preventive measures include the following:

  • Drink Slowly: Limit the drink to just one or less than that in an hour and try to consume it in a slow manner.
  • Sip Water: Try to drink a full glass of water after every alcoholic drink so that one can keep himself hydrated and also try to consume fewer amounts of alcoholic beverages.
  • Eat before Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol is absorbed much rapidly in an empty stomach. Therefore, one should make the stomach full before consuming alcohol.
  • Choose the Beverages Carefully: Beverages like light-colored beers or wine are less likely to cause Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache than the alcoholic drinks with more congeners like whiskey, brandy, red wine, or dark beers.
  • Regular Exercise: It is seen that a human body usually takes around an hour to metabolize one alcoholic drink completely. Therefore, during regular exercise, endorphin hormone is released that helps in boosting the mood and burning off more calories which helps to manage the body functions at the time of consuming alcoholic beverages.

Conclusion

Hang-over Headache or Alcohol Induced Headache has a significant amount of economic consequences as well. If this headache becomes worse along with the manifestations of other symptoms then it is advised to consult a healthcare provider because a huge amount of alcoholic beverage intake can lead to several social consequences or even serious health condition including death.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: January 7, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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