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Why Does Beer Give Me A Headache?

Almost everyone loves to enjoy a cold one at the end of a long day or when celebrating with friends. However, if your day ends with an unwelcome headache, you may be wondering: why does beer give me a headache?

While occasional headaches may be normal for some people after drinking beer, frequent or intense headaches should not be taken lightly and maybe a sign of something more serious.

Symptoms and Causes of a Beer-Induced Headache

A beer-induced headache is usually associated with symptoms such as pressure in the forehead or temples and throbbing pain in the head. Other symptoms associated with this type of headache are nausea, dizziness and sensitivity to light and sound.

These headaches can occur right after drinking beer or several hours later depending on the cause.

The most common causes of these headaches are:

  • Histamine Intolerance
  • Alcohol Flush Reaction
  • Dehydration
  • Sulfite Sensitivity

Histamine Intolerance and Alcohol Flush Reaction

Histamine intolerance is caused by an abnormally high level of histamine in the body that leads to headaches after consuming alcoholic beverages such as beer.

The other cause is the alcohol flush reaction which occurs when an individual’s body lacks the enzyme that breaks down alcohol into harmless molecules before it enters the bloodstream leading to facial redness, rapid heartbeat, nausea, and sometimes even hives.


Another common cause of beer-induced headaches is dehydration. Even though you think you’re hydrating while drinking beer–you’re actually losing more water than what is consumed because alcohol acts as a diuretic which causes dehydration leading to headaches.

Sulfite Sensitivity

Sulfites are preservatives used in food products including beers to prevent microbial growth but can lead to allergic reactions such as breathing difficulties or asthma attacks for those allergic to them accompanied by severe headaches if consumed above safe levels set by Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

Other Causes

Headaches resulting from drinking beer can also be caused due to lack of sleep, stress, or diet-related issues such as the consumption of caffeine due to its stimulating effect on brain cells that facilitate nerve cell communication causing constriction in vessels.

If continued over time can lead to chronic tension headaches due to stress causing dilation in vessels and leading to throbbing pain behind the eyes and forehead.

Preventing Beer-Induced Headaches

Some steps that you can take in order to prevent these headaches include:

  • Moderation – drink moderately and stay hydrated while consuming alcoholic beverages
  • Avoiding sulfite-filled foods & drinks – choose beers with low levels of sulfite preservatives whenever possible and investigate further into manufacturers’ labels regarding any product ingredients mentioned
  • Eating healthy – focus on cooling foods like cucumber that reduce inflammation as well as green leafy vegetables like spinach that contain magnesium which helps relax constricted vessels causing tension headaches


Beer has long been enjoyed for its cultural significance around the world; however too much can lead to unwelcome health complications such as annoying post-beer drinking migraines! Hopefully understanding why these migraines occur will help you find ways to minimize your risk so you can enjoy your next pint without worry!

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, homebrewer and beer taster. I’m also the editor of Beer100. I love travelling the world and trying out new handcraft beer and different beer styles. I’m not an expert in brewing beer, but I know a few things about beer, which I share on this blog. If you need help or have a question, please comment below.

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