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Why does white wine give me a headache?

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Quick Answer

Alcohol triggers many wine-induced headaches, particularly migraines, according to the American Headache Society. Another culprit may be chemicals like histamines, tyramine and sulfites that are present in both white and red wines.

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Full Answer

Alcohol typically triggers headaches within three hours of consumption, according to the American Headache Society. Alcohol causes headaches by contributing to dehydration and restricting blood flow to the brain, notes Cleveland Clinic.

Other components in wine also contribute to headaches. White wine contains histamines, albeit a smaller amount than red wine. The Wall Street Journal states that histamines may trigger headaches because the chemical dilates blood vessels. Tyramine, also present in white wine, triggers headaches but by constricting blood vessels. People sensitive to tyramine can also get headaches from aged cheeses and citrus fruits.

Sulfites, arguably, also cause headaches. Though many people associate sulfites with possible headache triggers, The Wall Street Journal reports that sulfite sensitivity is more likely to cause allergy and asthma symptoms than headaches.

There is a chance that white wine may not be a trigger behind some people’s headaches. Sometimes, stress or anxiety are really the culprit and can cause a tension headache. A headache diary can help patients pinpoint headache triggers, according to the American Headache Society.

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