HomeTop StoriesWhy Does Red Wine Cause Headaches? Tips For Enjoying Wine Without Fear

Why Does Red Wine Cause Headaches? Tips For Enjoying Wine Without Fear


Ever wondered why that glass of red wine sometimes brings more than just a buzz? Many of you may have experienced a headache after a heavy night of red wine. A recent investigation conducted by researchers at the University of California, Davis, delves into the perplexing phenomenon of wine-induced headaches, experienced even by those who remain headache-free with other alcoholic beverages. The study, published in Scientific Reports, suggests that a naturally occurring flavonol in red wines, known as quercetin, may disrupt alcohol metabolism, paving the way for throbbing headaches.
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What is Quercetin?

Quercetin, a flavonol ubiquitous in various fruits and vegetables, including grapes, is celebrated for its antioxidant properties and is available in supplement form. However, it tends to misbehave when alcohol is in the mix. When metabolized alongside alcohol, it enters the bloodstream and transforms into quercetin glucuronide, impeding the alcohol metabolism process. This interference results in the accumulation of the toxin acetaldehyde, leading to hangover symptoms such as flushing, headaches, and nausea.
The study also revealed that alcoholic beverages, encompassing beer, wine, and spirits, stand out as common culprits associated with headaches, affecting approximately 37% of individuals. The International Headache Society identifies two categories of alcohol-induced headaches: immediate, occurring within three hours of alcohol consumption, and delayed, manifesting as hangover headaches within 5-12 hours.

Red wine headaches, notably, don’t necessitate excessive consumption. In most instances, a throbbing headache can ensue within 30 minutes to three hours after just a glass or two. The study proposes that the synergy of alcohol and the polyphenol quercetin, an antioxidant, may be at the root of these red wine-induced headaches.

For those who often find themselves grappling with wine-induced headaches, several strategies are recommended at the first inkling of discomfort.

Excessive red wine consumption is not good for health.
Photo Credit: iStock

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How to Alleviate a Wine Headache

If you sense the onset of a wine-induced headache, taking immediate action is crucial. Consider the following strategies suggested by Healthline:

  • Hydrate with Water: Increase your water intake to help flush out potential toxins and ease the headache.
  • Caffeine Boost: Try a caffeinated beverage to counteract the effects and provide relief.
  • Cool Compress or Ice Pack: Apply a cool compress or ice pack to the affected area to soothe the pain.
  • Dark Room Rest: Find comfort in a dark room by lying down to alleviate discomfort.

Dealing with Wine Triggers

If wine consistently triggers headaches for you, consider these measures:

  • Abstain from Wine: Your best option might be to avoid wine altogether, including reds, whites, or any type of wine.
  • Experiment Responsibly: If you’re willing to take the risk, experiment with different wines cautiously to identify those that don’t trigger headaches.
  • Track Your Intake: Keep tabs on the types of grapes, preservatives, and ingredients in the wines you consume. Opt for high-quality wines and consume small amounts until you understand their impact.
  • How To Prevent Red Wine Headache:

How to prevent wine headaches:

  • Avoid Wine During Discomfort: Refrain from drinking wine when feeling unwell, stressed, or upset.
  • No Empty Stomachs: Ensure you’ve eaten before enjoying wine to mitigate the risk of headaches.
  • Pre-Wine Hydration: Drink a full glass of water before consuming wine to stay hydrated.
  • Spacing Drinks: If having a second glass, wait at least an hour and drink another full glass of water before proceeding.
  • Sip Slowly: Take your time with each sip to moderate your alcohol intake.
  • Avoid Mixing: Don’t mix wine with other alcoholic beverages to minimize the risk of headaches.
  • Heed Early Warnings: Stop drinking at the first sign of head pain to prevent worsening symptoms.

Red wine is pegged as a healthier alcoholic drink. To enjoy it fully, drink sensibly and responsibly.

(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.)



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