Alcohol consumption and hangover patterns among migraine sufferers

J Neurosci Rural Pract. 2014 Apr;5(2):128-34. doi: 10.4103/0976-3147.131652.


Aims: Alcohol hangover is a poorly understood cluster of symptoms occurring following a heavy consumption of alcohol. The term "delayed alcohol-induced headache" is often used synonymously. Our objective was to compare alcohol hangover symptoms in migraine sufferers and nonsufferers.

Materials and methods: In this cross-sectional study, university students were asked to fill structured questionnaires assessing headache history, alcoholic consumption, and hangover symptoms (using the Hangover Symptom Scale (HSS)). Subjects were classified as suffering from migraine with or without aura and nonsufferers according the International Classification of Headache Disorders 2(nd) Edition (ICHD-II). The 13 hangover symptoms were divided by the researches into migraine-like and other nonmigraine-like symptoms.

Results: Hangover symptoms among 95 migraine sufferers and 597 nonsufferers were compared. Migraine sufferers consumed less alcohol compared with the nonsufferers (mean drinks/week 2.34 ± 4.11 vs. 2.92 ± 3.58, P = 0.038) and suffered from higher tendency to migraine-like symptoms after drinking (mean 2.91 ± 3.43 vs. 1.85 ± 2.35, P = 0.002) but not to other hangover symptoms (mean 5.39 ± 6.31 vs. 4.34 ± 4.56, P = 0.1).

Conclusions: Migraine sufferers consume less alcohol, especially beer and liquors, and are more vulnerable to migraine-like hangover symptoms than nonsufferers. The finding that the tendency to develop migraine attacks affects the hangover symptomatology may suggest a similarity in pathophysiology, and possibly in treatment options.

Keywords: Alcohol; delayed alcohol-induced headache; hangover; migraine; students.