Alcohol is a Trigger of Migraine?

A migraine is a very painful type of headache. It may occur with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light and sound. It is described a a throbbing pain in one area of the head.

Compounds in foods and beverages including tyramine, phenylethylamine and possibly histamine and phenolic compounds which exist in chocolate, wine, citrus, etc. have been considered migraine triggers. Thus it is advised people with migraines avoid those triggers to reduces the frequency of symptoms. Nevertheless, new studies show that genetic factors may be an underlying cause and the association of alcohol drink with migraine headache remains problematic.

The different ways people are reacting to wine intake, and whether or not it triggers migraine, may be potentially explained by genetic polymorphisms in specific enzymes related to metabolism. Scientists led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, US, identified “single-nucleotide polymorphisms” or “SNPs” in the genes PRDM16, TRPM8 and LRP1, and showed that each alters the risk for migraines by 10 to 15 percent.

One study shows that only a small percentage of patients became headache-free simply by excluding the foods including called-trigger compounds. Many other studies reveal that patients with migraine consume alcohol in a smaller percentage than the general population. Furthermore, a research manifests a decreased prevalence of headache with increasing number of alcohol units consumed. The classification criteria of alcohol-related headaches is a question with unclear answers.

While prior studies tend to blame alcohol for triggering an migraine attack, a recent study shows that menstruation, stress, and fatigue were found most commonly to relate to a subsequent attack. Scientists from The Headache Center in Empoli, after reviewing the role and mechanism of the action of alcohol or other components of alcoholic drinks in relation to alcohol-induced headache, conclude that reports overestimate the role of alcohol, as well as other foods, in the triggering of migraine.

Although after consuming wine or alcohol, some people have a migraine or other type of headache, the findings are not consistent (as stated above, a study shows beer consumption on the previous day reduced the risk of a migraine attack). Thus, it would not be appropriate to advise all such sufferers to avoid alcohol. In contrast, sufferers from migraine headaches who desire to consume alcohol can drink small amounts of specific types of beverages to see if each beverage is tolerated or not. After seeing the effects, and factoring in symptoms from other dietary or lifestyle elements (sleep, stress, dehydration), they can discuss the continued alcohol use with their physician.


Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

Tags: , , .

Leave a comment