Why Do We Get Headache After Drinking Alcohol?

headache after having a night out with friends and having a few drinks is the most unpleasant feeling that an individual can have. Also called as hangover headaches, sometimes these headaches are so severe in intensity that the individual may prefer to stay in a dark quiet roomfor some time and really feel miserable. This is due to drinking alcohol that is more than the body can take to metabolize. This headache may also be associated with photophobia and even bouts of vomiting.

Individuals who are prone to headaches or have a history of migraines are more likely to get such headaches even with a slight amount of alcohol that a normal individual.

The headaches may begin soon after an individual has finished a drinking session but it may also occur the following day after the alcohol level falls in the bloodstream.

The question is as to why an individual gets headache after drinking. In this article we will touch upon some basic causes that cause an individual to have headaches after drinking.

Why Do We Get Headache After Drinking Alcohol?

Why Do We Get Headache After Drinking Alcohol?

The first and foremost cause as to why an individual gets headaches after drinking is the content of the alcoholic beverage. Alcohol contains high amounts of ethanol which is a chemical which is made by fermenting sugars. After a round of drinking, this ethanol is absorbed into the stomach from where it mixes with the bloodstream and through the bloodstream enters the nerve cells of the brain. This ethanol then acts on the brain along with other parts of the body including the liver, kidneys, heart, and the cells of the stomach. It acts as a nerve depressant which gives a feeling of the individual feeling stress free.

The other aspect of ethanol is that it causes the body to lose a lot of fluid and essential nutrients and making the individual virtually dehydrated. It also affects the fluid surrounding the brain which in turn results in less blood flow to the brain and decreased blood pressure to the brain due to widening of the arteries of the brain.

This is what results in the individual having a sense of sensitivity to light and headaches. Individuals who are predisposed to headaches and tend have a migraine disorder tend to get headaches even with mild quantity of alcohol.

Yet another cause for headaches after drinking alcohol is the chemicals that present in alcohol. Apart from ethanol, an alcoholic beverage also contains histamine and tyramine which interfere with the chemicals in the brain. This interference leads to migraines and headaches after drinking.

Stress also plays a key role in an individual having headaches after drinking alcohol. If an individual has a negative frame of mind when he starts drinking alcohol, then the following morning the individual may have headaches after drinking.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 10, 2018

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