Alcohol and red wine overrated as triggers of migraines

Alcohol and red wine overrated as triggers of migraines

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New study: Migraine-triggering effects of red wine overestimated?

Health experts say that about 15 percent of Germans suffer from migraines. The headache attacks can be triggered by certain triggers. Red wine is also one of these. But a new study now suggests that the migraine-triggering effects of alcohol / red wine may have been overestimated.

Red wine may not be an independent migraine trigger

About 15 percent of the population suffers from migraines. Those affected can literally be put out of action by the disease. Migraine attacks can be triggered by a variety of stimuli. Red wine is also one of these so-called triggers. But according to a new study, the wine only triggers a migraine attack in only a few patients. The study authors therefore doubt that alcohol / red wine is an independent migraine trigger.

Severely restricted quality of life

As the German Society for Neurology (DGN) explains in a communication, migraines are characterized by recurring, usually very severe, one-sided headaches, which in some of the sufferers are also associated with certain neurological symptoms (so-called aura symptoms).

These usually occur before the actual headache, which includes, for example, dizziness, fibrillation of the eyes, narrowing of the visual field, tingling or numbness in the limbs.

Some patients experience nausea and vomiting during the headache phase, and there is often a particularly pronounced sensitivity to noise or light during the headache attack.

The duration of a migraine attack varies from patient to patient - for some it is "already" over four hours, for others it lasts up to three days.

The frequency of migraine attacks is also very different. There is no question that the disease is extremely stressful for those affected and severely limits their quality of life.

Many patients have to take medication continuously to prevent severe migraine attacks.

The causes have not yet been fully researched

As the DGN further explains, migraines are one of the neurological diseases whose causes have not yet been fully researched.

However, triggers (so-called triggers) of a migraine attack, such as stress, changes in the sleep-wake rhythm, changes in the weather or cycle-related hormonal changes in women are known (by the way, the proportion of women who suffer from migraines is almost twice as high as that of men !).

Unfamiliar, "extreme" sensations such as noise, visual stimuli or smells can also trigger migraine attacks.

Nutrition can also play a role: for some of those affected, headaches can be provoked by skipping meals, for others with certain foods and luxury foods.

These include chocolate and alcohol, and above all red wine: "Red wine in particular releases serotonin from the blood platelets, to which migraineurs can be sensitive," the Headache Foundation writes on its website.

The importance of alcoholic beverages as a trigger for migraine attacks was examined

A Dutch study, recently published in the European Journal of Neurology, examined the importance of alcoholic beverages as a trigger for migraine attacks and the effect on alcohol consumption in migraine sufferers.

According to the information, 2,197 patients were web-based asked about their drinking behavior and the triggers that trigger their headache attacks.

The respondents were participants in the "Leiden University MIgraine Neuro-Analysis" (LUMINA) project, aged between 18 and 80, who suffer from migraines according to the international medical classification ICHD-3.

1,547 of the respondents stated that they consumed alcohol. A total of 783 patients (35.6 percent) said that alcohol triggers headache attacks.

The proportion was even higher among the subjects who occasionally drink alcohol: In this group, 42.5 percent stated that alcohol was a migraine trigger for them.

These patients, in whom alcohol consumption triggers migraine attacks, had a lower body mass index (BMI) than the others, suffered more from migraines without aura symptoms, had more migraine attacks per year and more "migraine days".

Just a "felt" trigger?

The study also examined which alcoholic beverages are particularly likely to cause migraine attacks. The most common name was wine, especially red wine.

According to the DGN, it is suspected that certain ingredients in red wine such as histamine, tyramine or phenylethylamine could cause this effect.

The respondents indicated that two standard glasses are enough to provoke a migraine attack.

However, only 8.8 percent of the study participants reported that red wine always and without exception leads to migraine attacks.

The study authors therefore doubt that alcohol / red wine is an independent trigger. However, the fact is that migraines change the consumption behavior of alcohol, many patients refrain.

According to the study authors, it can therefore be discussed whether alcohol is a real or just a “felt” trigger for migraine attacks.

Bypass avoidable triggers

"Rarely is there a single trigger responsible for the onset of a migraine attack, usually several triggers come together," said DGN spokesman Professor Dr. Hans-Christoph Diener, Essen.

"Red wine is easy to bypass, other migraine triggers, such as Hormone fluctuations or weather changes, but not. It is therefore wise to avoid avoidable triggers in order to reduce the risk of migraine attacks occurring, ”said the expert.

"The study should under no circumstances be interpreted in such a way that migraine sufferers should drink red wine calmly - alcohol, especially red wine, remains a migraine trigger, it is not clear how big its influence actually is," Diener explained.

"Migraineurs are always well advised to avoid every avoidable trigger of a migraine attack." (Ad)

Author and source information

Video: Can alcohol trigger a migraine? Health Channel (August 2022).