Why Do You Get A Headache After Drinking?

Why Do You Get A Headache After Drinking? - Anybody who has had a few more drinks than they perhaps should have will know just what it is like to have a hangover which, amongst other things, invariably includes a sometimes quite severe headache. But what causes a hangover headache?

Alcohol carries with it two particular problems for the human body. The first is that it acts as a diuretic causing you to lose water and with it some essential salts such as potassium and magnesium. The second is that alcohol is, in essence, a drug which results in a significant level of toxins which can remain in the body for several hours. It is this combination of factors which create a hangover complete with a headache, nausea, shakiness, fatigue and other symptoms.
Why Do You Get A Headache After Drinking?
Why Do You Get A Headache After Drinking?

The precise manner in which alcohol acts on the body is complex, but two things which are important as far as headaches are concerned are the fact that alcohol has an effect on prostaglandin which is responsible for regulating pain and also causes the blood vessels to dilate. It is this dilation of the blood vessels in the brain which puts pressure on the pain sensors which run along the walls of the blood vessels which result in a headache, which is in turn exacerbated by alcohol's effect on prostaglandin. This also explains why your headache wears off in time as alcohol is flushed from the body and your blood vessels return to their normal size.

One important point to make here is that not all alcohol woks in the same manner, which is why people often ask what causes a headache from red wine drinking but not from white wine drinking. As a very general rule, the darker and sweeter the drink the more of a hangover, and headache, you will get. This is because such drinks contain a greater number of complex organic molecules such as methanol. So if you want to drink you are better sticking to things like white wine and vodka rather than red wine and whiskey.

So how do you cure a hangover?

There are several things that you can do to help cure a hangover and one popular remedy is the 'hair of the dog.' This does indeed work to a degree, but it is probably one of the worse things you can do to cure a hangover because it puts a considerable strain on both the liver and the stomach as they work to flush toxins from your body. Taking further alcohol will also provide only temporary relief and will invariably leave you with an even worse hangover than you would have had if you had left well alone.

Leaving aside the 'hair of the dog' therefore here are a few things that will certainly help:
  1. Drink plenty of water. Try to drink at least twice as much water as alcohol to both counter the dehydration caused by the alcohol and also to flush the toxins from the alcohol out of your body.
  2. Take some vitamin C. A good trick here is to take vitamin C in soluble tablet form which can also help to raise your water level.
  3. Replenish some of the essential salts you have lost. Eating a banana or two is a good way to do this.
  4. Take some sugar as alcohol also lowers your blood sugar level.
  5. Take some form of pain relief tablet but avoid standard aspirin as this can irritate an already 'tender' stomach. A good alternative is a soluble form of aspirin such as 'Alka Seltzer.'
  6. Get some sleep. A few hours of sleep can work wonders in giving the body time to recover.