Can wine cause headaches?

Many individuals avoid drinking wine, especially red wines since they end up with headaches in just a matter of minutes after drinking one. The reason why wine triggers headaches is still unclear, but many studies have been conducted and it was discovered that it is true for some individuals but not definite for those who claim that red wine triggers a headache.


The alcohol content in different varieties of wine can often trigger headaches since alcohol dilates the blood vessels which often results to a headache. Consumption of large amounts of alcohol whether wine or another alcoholic beverage can lead to dehydration since alcohol is a diuretic. In addition, dehydration is also known to trigger headaches.


For many years, the main cause of headaches due to red wine was believed to be sulfites which are preservative additives.


Histamine or chemicals released during allergic reactions can occur in wine due to the fermentation process. Histamine is known to occur more often in red wine than white and capable of triggering headaches among individuals who lack a particular enzyme that instigates allergic reactions to histamine.

In studies conducted, there is no evident difference in the response to the reduced level of histamine versus high histamine wines, thus making the connection vague.


For many years, the main cause of headaches due to red wine was believed to be sulfites which are preservative additives. On the other hand, many varieties of white wine contain more sulfites than red wine. Most cases of headaches due to wines are linked with the red ones rather than the white ones. Only a small percentage of individuals are actually allergic to sulfites, thus throwing a light on the sulfite-headache connection for all but a few.


Tannins are flavonoids present in wine that can also contribute to headaches triggered by wine. Various studies conducted discovered that tannins generate serotonin which causes headaches among migraine sufferers.

It is important to note that soy, chocolate and tea also contain tannins and do not seem to trigger headaches, thus making the connection vague. In addition, individuals who do not have migraines can also end up with headaches due to wine.


Always bear in mind that both white and red wine can aggravate the allergy symptoms including headaches in some individuals. When a headache due to wine develops, it is actually the worsening of the allergy symptoms.

Once an individual experiences undesirable signs and symptoms after consuming wine, whether red or white, it might indicate an allergy or a reaction to the components present in the beverage. If the symptoms seem to persist, it is best to consult a doctor so that proper assessment can be carried out.


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