Alcohol and Migraine: What Should We Tell Patients?


Alcoholic drinks are a migraine trigger in about one third of patients with migraine in retrospective studies on trigger factors. Many population studies show that patients with migraine consume alcohol in a smaller percentage than the general population. Moreover, research has shown a decreased prevalence of headache with increasing number of alcohol units consumed. The classification criteria of alcohol-related headaches remain problematic. We discuss the role and mechanism of action of alcohol or other components of alcoholic drinks in relation to alcohol-induced headache. In accordance with data from a recent prospective study, we believe that reports overestimate the role of alcohol, as well as other foods, in the triggering of migraine. If a relationship between the intake of alcohol and the migraine attack is not clear, a small dose of alcohol is not contraindicated either for enjoyment or its protective effect on cardiovascular disease.

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Correspondence to Alessandro Panconesi.

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Panconesi, A., Bartolozzi, M.L. & Guidi, L. Alcohol and Migraine: What Should We Tell Patients?. Curr Pain Headache Rep 15, 177–184 (2011).

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  • Hangover
  • Migraine
  • Headache
  • Alcohol
  • Headache classification criteria
  • Trigger factors
  • Wine
  • Serotonin
  • Serotonin release
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Congeners
  • Vasodilatation
  • Lifestyle