How you can avoid those dreaded wine headaches

Publish Date
Tuesday, 13 December 2016, 12:13PM
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Wine drinkers will know the pain of the next day hangover - but now it can be revealed just why wine headaches are so bad.

The topic has been a matter of controversy for some time.

Some people believe the brain pain is caused by sulfites in the wine, but this myth has been largely debunked by experts - though sulfites can trigger asthma symptoms.

In fact, there are three major culprits, according to Vinepair: tannins, histamines, and sugar.

Tannins are antioxidants and naturally occurring compounds in grape skins, seeds and stems. They are the reason for that drying sensation in your mouth after a glug of wine, and for many of us, tannins won't cause headaches.

But some people are susceptible to headaches from drinking tannin-rich red wine.
To find out if you are, try brewing a tannin-rich tea bag for far longer than you would normally - 10 minutes or so. Drink it - and if you get a headache afterwards, you'll probably be susceptible to headaches from drinking red wine.

Another culprit of our wine headaches is the sugar. When alcohol and sugar mix, the body requires a lot of water to be able to process these substances. So if you're not keeping yourself hydrated, you'll likely suffer from a major headache.

The third culprit is histamines - the chemicals that are released when we have an allergic reaction and cause us to have a runny nose, dry eyes and a headache.

According to Vine pair, research has revealed that certain aged foods and drinks, such as aged wines, can cause our bodies to release histamines and suffer from allergy-related symptoms.
'Red wines, in general, contain more histamine than Champagnes or sparkling wines and those usually contain more histamine than [still] white wines,' Dan L. Keiller, MD, told the Wall Street Journal.

So how can we avoid wine headaches? There are few simple tricks - but it won't surprise you to learn that the best way to avoid a hangover is to reduce the amount you drink.

1. For every glass of wine you drink, drink a glass of water, advises NHS Choices.

2. Drink more slowly.

3. Drink two cups of strong coffee before you drink wine, according to one expert. Dr. Seymour Diamond, executive chairman of the National Headache Foundation, told the Chicago Tribune that caffeine constricts blood vessels, which mitigates wine's vascular effects.

4. Try taking an antihistamine before you drink wine, according to Dr Roshini Rajapaska on, to counter the allergy-like effects you may get when you drink wine.

5. Drink sparingly - and choose your wine wisely. Dry wines low in sugar will be less likely to give you a headache than dessert wines, and avoid red wines if you suffer from tannin-related headaches.

- NZ Herald

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