How can alcohol cause a headache?

Alcohol, which is consumed in beverages such as liquor, wine and beer, is a chemical called ethanol which may cause headaches by several means.

  • Ethanol is a direct vasodilator; in some individuals vasodilation may cause a headache
  • Second, ethanol is a natural diuretic; this leads to excretion of salt, vitamins and minerals from the body through the kidneys.
  • Excess consumption of ethanol may produce dehydration and chemical imbalances in the body and we consume ethanol in beverages that contain other chemicals
  • Many with migraines, and most with cluster headaches, are sensitive to alcohol, at times in even small amounts.
  • Those who suffer from headaches should avoid any heavy use of alcohol to avoid further headaches.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.