“Why does beer give me a headache?” is a question that has gone through a beer-drinker’s mind probably a lot of times. There are several components of a beer that may cause you to have a headache. Several people claim they have hangover headaches after consuming beer, leading to many beer drinkers having this question on their lips.
This in-depth guide will help you understand why you keep having a headache after drinking beer.
Why Does Beer Give Me a Headache?
Beer gives you a headache because of the various components that make up the beer. Headache from beer also depends on how much you drink and how fast you drink it. Drinking more amount of beer than your liver can handle within a short time can result in a hangover headache. Diet can also cause a beer to give you a headache, and a full stomach will reduce the absorption of alcohol.
The type of beer you drink can also determine how severe the headache will be. Low-quality beers contain components such as congeners. These components are known to cause inflammation and pain, so consuming such beers will increase your chances of getting a headache.
Furthermore, genetic factors may also affect how beer gives you a headache. Some people’s body systems can withstand the effect of alcohol more than others. Their system is an expert at breaking down by-products, and they have a low chance of experiencing headaches. Even if they do, the effects will be minimal.
– Components of Beer
Beer contains some ingredients that can cause a headache.
These include the following:
One of the significant components of beer, alcoholic beverages and wine is ethanol. Ethanol is harmful when present in large amounts and small amounts give a sweet buzz that you feel when tipsy or drunk. It can be challenging for us to limit how much we drink and most times, people drink more than the liver can process. This leads to several hangover symptoms, including headaches.
Ethanol acts as a vasodilator, causing the small veins in the brain to contract. As blood vessels expand, they send pain signals to the pain receptors and cause mild to severe headaches. Ethanol can also be a diuretic. It signals the urinary organs to produce more urine, leading to a severe headache.
Some cases of overconsumption of alcohol resolve themselves. However, some might need medical intervention. If a person shows signs of slowed breathing, confusion or extremely low temperature, it is recommended that you seek medical intervention immediately. Excess alcohol triggers serious, devastating effects, pushing your body towards danger.
Some alcohol byproducts like congeners can also be why beer gives you headaches. Congeners hinder ethanol’s breakdown, causing the hangover effect to be more substantial and last longer. Congeners also trigger inflammation and stress hormones, worsening the headache.
Well, congeners are in low quantity in beer, especially the light ones. They are present in high amounts in dark beers and liquor like whiskey, red wine and others.
Another byproduct is fusel alcohol and it can cause a severe headache after drinking. It is a byproduct of fermentation. It increases the chances of a headache and is also responsible for beer’s sour taste. This is especially the case for homebrews.
Histamines are part of our body’s immune system and they defend the body against invading pathogens. For people with allergies, excess histamines do more harm than good. It can cause muscle aches, headaches and inflammation.
Beer is made up of histamines, which trigger your immune system to produce the natural histamine. The release of the natural histamine exposes you to symptoms of the allergy. You can experience inflammation and a severe headache.
Tannins are naturally occurring chemicals found in the skins, seeds and stems of grapes. Tannins are an excellent source of antioxidants. When you drink a beer that causes a drying sensation in your mouth, you are experiencing the influence of tannins. For the most part, tannins do not cause a headache.
However, you may notice that you experience headaches more frequently when you drink beer. You can try a short test to discover if tannins are the cause of these headaches. Make a serving of black tea and steep it for five to ten minutes longer than the box recommends. Black tea contains a lot of tannins, so if you soak it too long, you’ll get a lot of them.
When alcohol and sugar are combined, they can result in a severe headache. When you ingest alcohol or sweets, your body needs a lot of water to help it metabolize the drugs. If you aren’t hydrated enough, your body will begin to draw water from other places, including your brain. A headache will develop when the fluids in your head start to diminish.
To avoid this, avoid sweet dessert wines, sweet beers and white wines labeled semi-dry. You should also avoid alcohol that is cheap because they tend to have more sugar. This answers the question “Why does cheap beer give me a headache?” They cause wine headaches since brewers add sugar to boost the alcohol during the fermentation process.
Serotonin is also known as the “feel-good” hormone. It helps regulate sleep patterns, our moods and lots more. When we consume beer, it triggers the body to increase the production of serotonin. This is responsible for the pleasant buzz feeling we experience when tipsy or drunk.
But once the effects of the beer have worn off, the serotonin level reduces. When it decreases, our body fights to maintain balance. These effects can lead to depression and anxiety as well as severe headaches.
How To Test Your Alcohol Limit
Several people dealing with migraines stay away from alcohol to prevent the attack. To know whether the beer will induce a migraine attack, drink a glass or more and wait for 30 minutes to about 3 hours to see your reaction.
Both the beer-connected migraines and headaches will manifest within that time. You can only know your case by determining your limit under controlled conditions.
Note that the first signs of a hangover usually show the next day. This can grow into multiple-day migraine attacks. Your limits will not be the same as others, so you should not drink beer more than your body can handle.
– Preventing Headaches
One way or another, most beer drinkers have experienced a headache after consuming beer at a point in their lives, but you can prevent this from happening.
Here are some tips to avoid it:
- Do not rush the beer, sip it slowly and drink a glass of water in between.
- Consume milk, greasy food, tomato juice, bouillon or honey before you start drinking.
- Do not drink on an empty stomach.
- Do not drink the same alcohol you have a hangover from the following day.
– How Long Does Headache From Beer Last?
Generally, a headache from a beer can last up to 24 hours to 72 hours. Note that a good night’s sleep and plenty of water will help reduce the effects of the beer.
How To Deal With Alcohol-related Headaches
The morning after taking too much beer could be a nightmare with a hangover and a headache. You need to get it under control before it becomes something extraordinary.
The best remedies for you include:
- Adequate sleep and massages
- Over-the-counter medicines
- Consuming something bland or carbohydrate-rich foods
- Hydration, including beverages rich in electrolytes and water
- A hot compress or a cold pack on the forehead depending on the type of headache
Vitamins like vitamin B6, C and some types of tea can assist your body in eliminating alcohol. Consumables like bananas, nuts, ginger, spinach and eggs may also help eradicate the effects of alcohol.
Types of Alcohol-induced Headaches
It is normal to experience headaches after drinking alcohol. However, alcohol-induced migraine headache is a little different. The International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD) gave two types of alcohol-induced headaches. The two types are severe medical conditions and require proper treatment.
This problem, sometimes known as a cocktail headache, begins three hours after consuming alcohol. It lasts for about 72 hours from the start of abstinence. When you start having a pulsating feeling on both sides of your head (bilateral pain), you’ll know you’ve got this problem. Any shot at physical movement will increase its intensity.
This form of headache usually starts 5 to 12 hours after drinking alcohol. It’s more familiar, and it’s accompanied by dull discomfort and exhaustion. It’s fairly uncommon for headaches from beer to resemble tension or cluster migraines and headaches.
Scientists believe that heredity may play a role in a person’s propensity for headaches from alcohol. The appearance of this unpleasant consequence appears to force people to abstain from beer.
Can Alcohol Cure Headaches?
No, alcohol cannot cure a headache. However, there is a popular saying that a “hair of the dog,” or a drink the morning after, can help with hangover symptoms. Having another drink may help you feel better and briefly alleviate withdrawal symptoms, particularly the dreadful headache.
However, unless you want to keep drinking, your body’s alcohol levels will eventually decline, which will trigger migraine. Of course, continuing to drink to avoid hangover symptoms can raise your long-term risk of alcoholism.
To put it another way, the only way to get rid of a hangover is to go through it. Drinking additional alcohol will almost certainly make your symptoms worse. However, you could also find a beer that doesn’t give you a headache.
Do all beers cause a headache?
Not all beers cause a headache, but some individuals may be more sensitive to certain ingredients or alcohol content in beer.
Why do certain beers cause a headache?
Certain beers can cause a headache due to various factors like higher alcohol content, dehydration, and histamine release during fermentation.
How do I stop beer from giving me a headache?
To reduce the likelihood of a beer-induced headache, try drinking water alongside beer, avoid drinking on an empty stomach, and consider choosing lower alcohol content beers or those without added sulfites.
We’ve discussed several things relating to why beer gives you a headache.
Let’s have a quick recap to ensure you have enough knowledge about it:
- The different reasons why beer gives headaches are: drinking in excess, genetics and the type of beer you drink.
- The beer components that may cause headaches include tannins, sugars, histamines, ethanol and alcohol byproducts.
- You can prevent beer-induced migraine by not rushing the beer and sipping it slowly, drinking a glass of water in between. Consume milk, greasy food, tomato juice, bouillon or honey before you start drinking. Do not drink on an empty stomach, and you also don’t want to take the same beer you had the night before.
- The remedies for headaches from beer are N-acetyl-cysteine, adequate sleep and massages, and over-the-counter medicines. It would also help to consume something bland or carbohydrate-rich and exercise properly.
- Hydration with beverages rich in electrolytes and water, a hot compress, or a cold pack on the forehead are also effective methods of curing headaches from beer.
Having a headache after beer or alcohol consumption is not new and it could happen to anyone. Read through this guide to know how to prevent it and how you can deal with it.
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