Learn / Here's Why Alcohol Can Make Your Head Hurt Afterwards

Here's Why Alcohol Can Make Your Head Hurt Afterwards

Aplós, August 10th, 2023

There lies a well-known regret in the quiet reflection of dawn — the throb of a headache, an unsolicited guest following an evening of indulgence in spirits.

Many of us have navigated this labyrinth of discomfort, the bleary-eyed cloudiness, the thrumming behind our eyelids, and the desire to shield ourselves from the soft sounds and sun-slanted streams of light that accompany the start of a new day.

Wondering why exactly alcohol makes our heads hurt afterward? This article sheds light on this twilight mystery, unraveling the intricate tapestry of causes behind these headache episodes post-alcohol consumption and offering alternatives that will help you awaken refreshed and ready to welcome the possibility of the morning rather than avoid it.

What Can Cause Headaches After Alcohol Consumption?

These unwelcome guests find their roots in the effects of alcohol. Let's navigate the unseen path of these effects, unearthing the delicate mechanisms leading to such discomfort.


Much like a riverbed parched in the summer heat, the body responds to the effects of ethanol, a key component of alcohol, which acts as a diuretic. This interaction prompts frequent urination, leading to a rapid loss of water.

As your brain and body strain to combat this sudden aridity, it can put pressure on the nerves, setting the stage for a dehydration headache to blossom.


In the labyrinthine network of our bloodstream, alcohol serves as a hushed catalyst, instigating a process known as vasodilation. Here, your blood vessels expand subtly, like tendrils reaching for sunlight.

This expansion increases blood flow, particularly within the confines of your skull. This internal process can result in a pounding, unpleasant headache.


Imbibe in spirits, and you unknowingly invite a masked guest: histamine. This compound, usually called upon during the body's response to allergens, has a clandestine ability to trigger headaches.

In the aftermath of alcohol consumption, histamine is released into your system, weaving a complex tapestry of discomfort that awakens with the morning sun.

How Does Alcohol Affect Blood Sugar Levels?

Wandering into the world of biochemistry, we find alcohol orchestrating a ballet of physiological changes. One such change is the impact of alcohol on our blood sugar levels.

Upon consumption, alcohol causes a sudden drop in blood sugar, a state known as hypoglycemia. This rapid fluctuation can result in symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, mood disturbances, and, yes, headaches.

Further complicating this dance is the role of acetaldehyde, a byproduct of alcohol metabolism. In its endeavor to break down the alcohol we consume, the liver produces this toxic compound, infamous for its contribution to alcohol hangover symptoms. The presence of acetaldehyde following a night of enjoyment may indeed exacerbate the unease of a headache.

And let's not forget serotonin, the body's own mood regulator. Alcohol can lead to fluctuations in serotonin levels, adding another layer to this intricate interplay of biological mechanisms.

A decrease in serotonin can potentially set the stage for headache symptoms, weaving a complex tale of physiological changes that linger long after the last sip of your evening cocktail.

As we continue to uncover the intricate tapestry of alcohol's influence on our bodies, we see the portrait of a headache becoming clearer, a fascinating if uncomfortable testament to the body's reaction to our choice of libations.

Does the Type of Alcohol Play a Role in Alcohol-Induced Headaches?

Like a painter's palette, the world of alcoholic beverages is diverse and rich, from the full-bodied red wine to the crispness of white, the hearty resonance of beers, and the sharp bite of spirits. However, each color on this palette carries its unique shade of discomfort, casting different shadows on the canvas of headaches.

At the core of this diverse landscape lie congeners, the substances produced during fermentation. These chemicals add flavor and depth to the beverages but also carry the potential for morning-after headaches.

Red wine, for instance, with its deeper hues and fuller body, tends to have higher congener content than its lighter counterpart, white wine. This difference may explain why some wine connoisseurs find themselves reaching for the ibuprofen after a night of savoring their favored Merlot.

Alongside congeners, tannins and sulfites enter the scene. Tannins, the naturally occurring compounds found in the skins and seeds of grapes, are said to potentially contribute to headaches. On the other hand, sulfites, used as a preservative in wines and some beers, can cause sensitivity reactions in some people, leading to throbbing discomfort.

While it's tempting to believe that a small amount of alcohol might serve as a protective shield against the onslaught of headaches, even a modest glass of wine can be enough to stir the specter of a headache for some individuals. It's a reminder that, in the realm of alcohol consumption, moderation might be a friend, but it doesn't guarantee complete immunity.

What Types of Headaches Can Alcohol Cause?

As the fog of alcohol-induced discomfort unfurls, a diverse array of headaches can make their presence known. Let's traverse this hazy terrain, each step revealing a new aspect of this somber symphony.

Migraines and Cluster Headaches

Alcohol use can amplify the possibility of common types of headaches. First, we encounter the infamous migraine headaches, their reputation forged by the intensity of throbbing pain often seizing one side of the head.

This discomfort, pulsating like a solitary drummer in the quiet of night, frequently springs up as an uninvited guest after indulging in an alcoholic beverage.

Then, we stumble upon the cluster headaches. A series of short but intensely painful headaches invade your tranquility like a sudden squall, strong enough to cloud the sunniest memories of merriment.

Cocktail Headaches

A form of headache that occurs shortly after indulging in a drink, the cocktail headache makes its appearance on the same evening of alcohol consumption, often occurring within as little as three hours of drinking.

It doesn't discriminate, as even a small amount of alcohol can strike up this tune. Imagine your brain as a drum, its beat throbbing or pulsating on both sides of your head. Any physical activity seems to amplify this rhythm, letting the pulsations echo louder within the corners of your skull.

While less common than a hangover headache, migraine sufferers are more likely to experience this form of same-day discomfort, even when drinking very little.

The Delayed Alcohol-Induced Headache

Treading further into this somber landscape, we encounter the delayed alcohol-induced headache or, more commonly, the hangover headache.

Unlike cocktail headaches, this unwanted guest comes out the next day, creating an uncomfortable internal environment that lingers long after the drinks stop flowing. Suspected culprits behind this type of headache are nerve chemicals like serotonin.

Our understanding of the aftermath of alcohol consumption is akin to navigating a dense forest, each step uncovering a new element of this intricate ecosystem. The headache that presents itself in the quiet dawn after an evening of enjoyment isn't arbitrary but rather a calculated result of a cascade of physiological responses.

The narrative of alcohol and its effects on our bodies continues to unfold, leading us deeper into this mysterious, often haze-shrouded world.

Ways To Prevent Alcohol-Induced Headaches

While the narrative of the “hair of the dog” has a familiar ring to it, this notion that a small dose of the poison that ails you might be your salvation is not backed by scientific evidence, casting a shadow of doubt over its effectiveness.

Instead, the path to mitigation is marked by simpler, more practical steps. Central to this is hydration.

Drinking plenty of water and replenishing electrolytes with sports drinks can help counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol. Consuming alcohol on an empty stomach might expedite the onset of its effects, but it can also amplify the likelihood of a hangover headache.

Another strategy is to rethink the way you drink altogether. What if your glass contained not a ticking time bomb of discomfort but a sensory experience that engaged and enlivened and didn't demand a price the next morning?

Alcohol Alternatives for Avoiding Hangovers

In contrast to the harsh effects of alcohol, enter Aplós Calme and Arise — functional spirits crafted to embody this philosophy of balance and abundance. An elegant alternative to alcoholic beverages, these luxury functional spirits infuse moments of celebration and introspection without the shadow of the hangover looming over the horizon.

Aplós Calme, a hemp-infused spirit, is your companion for moments of unwind. It is a blooming blend of citrus and herbal botanicals, a whisper of calm in a bottle without the haze of alcohol-induced discomfort. Each sip allows you to bask in a sense of tranquility, setting the stage for introspection, conversation, and relaxation.

Aplós Arise, meanwhile, is your ally in times of revelry. It brings to life the essence of citrus and herbal botanicals, elevated by a proprietary blend of adaptogens, to create a spirited elixir for your celebratory moments. Arise doesn't compromise the memory of your joyous evenings with a morning of regret.

Indulge in Each Undisturbed Moment With Aplós

From the robust drumming of migraines and cluster headaches to the elusive whispers of cocktail headaches, these discomforts echo the multifaceted dialogue between alcohol and our body's responses.

And yet, as we stand in the twilight of this journey, we discover a new understanding. The morning-after shadow of alcohol, the headaches and discomforts, are not a cruel trick played by an uncaring universe. They are, instead, our bodies speaking to us in a language of sensation, a commentary on our actions.

Much like a river's course, shaped and directed by the terrain it traverses, our bodies respond to the presence of alcohol in myriad ways, culminating in the all-too-familiar sensation of the morning-after headache. But remember, while the terrain may determine the river's course, the water's flow is our own to control.

With Aplós functional, nonalcoholic spirits, you are invited to indulge in the richness of life's moments, to explore new paths and novel alternatives that allow us to savor the shared laughter, the intimate conversations, the moments of solace, all without leaving us in the shadow of discomfort when morning comes.

As we embrace this understanding, we step into a new day — a day filled with possibilities, unclouded by the echoes of yesterday's indulgences. Let the luxurious taste of Aplós accompany your memories, not hinder them.


Mechanism of Dehydration Following Alcohol Ingestion | JAMA Internal Medicine

Dehydration Headache: Dehydration Symptoms & Types of Headaches | Cleveland Clinic

Vascular Effects of Alcoholic Beverages | AHA Journals

No level of alcohol consumption is safe for our health | WHO

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