Where do wine headaches come from?
One major cause is dehydration, i.e. lack of fluids. (Colloquially, the term "dehydration" is often used in this context, but this term is incorrect from a medical-technical point of view) Alcohol withdraws water from the human body. Without a sufficient amount of water, however, the metabolism cannot function, and the body's reaction to a lack of water and minerals is, among other things, headaches.
Another cause is the toxin Acetaldehyde. It is produced when alcohol is broken down in the human body by the enzyme group of alcohol dehydrogenases(ADH), which are found in the liver and in the digestive tract. Acetaldehyde is a precursor of alcohol and is therefore formed both during its build-up (during fermentation) and its breakdown. In the right concentration, it causes headaches, nausea and vomiting.
In addition, headaches after excessive wine consumption can be caused by Fusel oils can cause headaches after excessive wine consumption. These substances are by-products of fermentation and are converted into so-called accompanying alcohols (fusel alcohols), which in turn are toxic. Unlike ethanol, most of these alcohols are not produced from sugar, but from amino acids(proteins).
In the case of hypersensitivity or allergy to biogenic amines such as Histamine headaches after excessive wine consumption can also be caused by them. Biogenic amines are protein degradation products that can be formed during fermentation. Favouring factors for this are, for example, malolactic fermentation (biological acid degradation) or longer storage in wooden barrels. Since these two fermentation methods are used more often with red wines than with white wines, red wines have higher amine values than white wines. If the human body's degradation mechanism for histamine is disturbed, headaches can result from the ingestion of biogenic amines.
The same applies in the case of hypersensitivity or allergy to Sulphites . The vast majority of wines contain sulphites because sulphur(sulphur dioxide) is added to them in the course of winemaking in order to protect them from spoilage and to preserve them. Sulphur prevents the influence of oxygen and micro-organisms on the must and on the wine. In sensitive people, sulphites can trigger asthma symptoms and/or headaches. However, most people can process sulphites within the permissible amounts without any adverse health effects; usually the body converts sulphites into sulphates and excretes them.
There are several ways to prevent headaches after excessive wine consumption - apart from moderate consumption:
- Since alcohol deprives the body of water and minerals, one should drink sufficient water, preferably mineral water, with the wine (not afterwards, although even then) - at least the same amount as wine, better twice as much.
- Fatty foods slow down the absorption of alcohol in the body. You should therefore always eat enough with wine.
- The simultaneous consumption of different alcoholic beverages (wine, beer, spirits) increases the risk of headaches and hangover symptoms. High-proof alcoholic beverages are particularly risky. It is therefore best not to drink in confusion, but to stick to wine and/or sparkling wine once you have started.
- To avoid headaches the next morning after a wine-fuelled evening, it helps to take a headache tablet (with plenty of water) before going to bed. Then the painkilling effect can already unfold as soon as the state of intoxication subsides and the breakdown of alcohol begins.