As the holiday season gets into full swing, a subject of interest is alcohol hangover headache.  This hangover headache or “veisalgia” is a well known common phenomena that occurs after heavy consumption of alcohol. It is described as throbbing and usually occurs on the morning after alcohol consumption, when blood alcohol concentration is falling.

As reported by R.W. Evans, MD, in Headache, alcohol hangovers involve physical, cognitive and psychological components which add up to headache, dizziness, fatigue and nausea among other unsavory side effects.  Moods are affected and decreased dexterity and concentration may also occur.

In a large survey of Danish 25-64 year olds, conducted by B.K. Rasmussen, and reported in Neurology,  the lifetime prevalence of hangover headache was 72%, making it the most common type of headache reported.

Though symptoms usually correlate with amount of alcohol consumed, it is not always the case. Actually, hangovers are much more common in light-to-moderate drinkers.

Additionally, darker colored alcoholic drinks such as whiskey, bourbon and red wine contain congeners, natural byproducts of alcohol fermentation which give flavor, color and aroma to drinks, but which also add up to more headaches.

Each year there are new remedies for hangovers, yet none has been proven to be effective for all. However, there are a number of interventions thought to lessen the effects of AHH. These include the obvious-drinking in moderation and sipping beverages slowly. Also, eating greasy foods before drinking helps to slow the absorption of alcohol. Tomato juice and honey are sources of fructose which are reported to help metabolize alcohol more effectively. Remember to drink a lot of water to help with dehydration associated with alcohol consumption. And as always, find a designated driver.

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