Why Does Beer Give Me a Headache?

Getting home from work or walking below the scorching sun definitely calls for a glass of ice-cold beer. However, most of us experience headaches when drinking beer. Because of this, you might ask, “Why does beer give me a headache?” The answer is quite long, so continue reading to find out.

The Fundamentals of Headaches Caused by Drinking Beer

Many food and beverages can trigger headaches, and beer is one of the common triggers. This is due to the ingredients that produce compounds that affect our nerves and trigger pain in our heads.

And this is not just a simple occurrence, as there are a lot of possibilities why you are experiencing headaches when drinking beer.

But before going there, first, know the two most common types of beer-caused headaches people report feeling after imbibing.


An immediate headache means feeling the symptoms right after drinking. In this sense, some people have reported getting headaches as early as two hours later.

The pain has a pulsing aspect and typically occurs on all sides of the head. People suffering from acute headaches from alcohol will frequently have difficulty participating in physically demanding activities.


People who have experienced alcohol-infused headaches usually say that an immediate symptom is better than the delayed one.

That is because a headache brought on by a hangover is worse than one brought on immediately. The agony is often compared to that of migraines or cluster headaches by those who have experienced it.

Typically, you can feel a delayed symptom or hangover in the morning. You’ll wake up with a heavy head and feel striking pain like someone banging inside your head. This kind of headache usually lasts for 48 to 72 hours, but if taken care of, it can only last up to 24 hours.

How Drinking Beer Causes Headaches

Generally, headaches are caused by the beer’s ingredients because, during fermentation, these produce chemicals that affect our bodies.

Some of these compounds can only make you pee more, but most can trigger a headache because it irritates your brain.

With this, your brain sends information to your system, and your body will react depending on the type of info it sends. However, it doesn’t mean that just because you drank a glass of beer will already cause you a headache.

A few influences, including the number of ounces you drank and how fast you consumed it, cause you this pain and determine the severity of your hangover.

If you drink more alcohol than your body can handle quickly, you will likely experience the unpleasant effects of a hangover the next day. And you might have heard others saying you should eat first before drinking beer, take this into account as it helps to reduce your alcohol absorption.

Furthermore, the type of beer and brand also plays a role in the headache you get. This is because a beer with a low-quality rating is more likely to have many inflammation-inducing chemicals, which we will talk about next.

Main Beer Chemicals That Trigger Headaches

The following chemicals, which are produced due to the fermentation process the beer takes, are the reasons why a person experiences headaches. Of course, there are not only three compounds; there are many. However, these three are undeniably the main triggers.


Ethanol or alcohol is primarily the chemical that triggers headaches in beverages like wine, whiskey, and beer. Note that alcohol acts as a diuretic, and ethanol is exactly this. Being a diuretic causes your kidney to work more, resulting in excessive release of urine.

And when you lose so much liquid from your system in such a short amount of time, you may get dehydrated, which can contribute to headaches. Therefore, if you have a history of severe headaches and drink excessively, you risk experiencing one of these painful headaches.


Natural compounds called congeners are produced during the fermentation stage of beer and tend to be more present in darker varieties.

When you drink a lot of beer with too many congeners, you’ll experience a cluster of pain in your head because this chemical messes up your brain’s tissues and blood vessels.


Histamine is an important compound that you can find in both a human’s body and in food. Enough histamine helps to take care of allergies and other types of injuries.

But of course, too much histamine can also threaten your body, like a headache. This possibility is called “Histamine Intolerance,” which means you are having a hard time breaking down the overproduction of this chemical, thus resulting in painful headaches.

Beer is a great histamine releaser because of the high levels of histamine it contains. And alcohol blocks the enzyme diamine oxidase, which is responsible for decomposing histamine in the body.

This means that the more of this chemical in your body, the higher the chance you experience severe headaches.

Does Tap Beer Cause More Headache than Bottled Beer?

Although tap and bottled beers are the same in terms of how they are made and the ingredients they use for the process, tap beer causes more headaches than the other. The reason for this is either the tap’s hygiene or the amount of beer you drink.

Some breweries are not hygienic enough, meaning their draft lines are dirty or moldy. And this can cause headaches, especially if your body can’t stand germs.

Moreover, tap beers tend to be strong and are served in pints which sometimes have more ounces than a typical 12 oz bottle. So there is a tendency you drink too much than what you usually drink when visiting a taproom, and this can result in severe headaches or hangovers.

Can I Get a Hangover From Drinking Only a Glass of Beer?

Drinking a glass of beer can trigger headaches for some individuals, and others can get away without feeling tipsy. Why? Because it depends on your body whether you can get drunk from a single glass of beer or not.

This is because we all have different levels of alcohol intolerance, which means you can be a light drinker while your friend can drink bottles of beer without getting hangovers.

And if this is the case, that you are indeed a light drinker, then drinking only a glass of beer is enough to get you drunk and have a hangover the next morning.

How Long Do Headaches From Drinking Beer Last?

A headache caused by a beer can last for a few hours, depending on its severity. Light headaches typically go away in less than 24 hours.

You can make this happen by drinking lots of water to neutralize the alcohol inside your body and hydrate you. But if you are experiencing a severe headache the next morning, or what you call a hangover, it can last up to three days if you only sleep on it.

Moreover, you can also experience nausea, dizziness, and fatigue along with your headache. So, just drinking water and sleeping may not be enough; you must take care of it to be okay.

How to Treat a Hangover Headache

Waking up with a cluster of pain attacking your head is a horrible feeling, and no one wants that.

However, there are times when you can’t get away from a hangover, especially if you enjoyed drinking too much and forgot to balance your drink, so you still wake up with a headache. Thus, normally, you’ll want to treat your hangover so you can get through the day without discomfort.

Experts have written and said many times that lying down, resting, and hydrating yourself is the most natural way to take care of a hangover. Doing this helps your body to slowly remove the beer in your system and calms your nerves.

But if you’re experiencing an extreme hangover, you might need painkillers like Ibuprofen and Aspirin to mend the pain. However, try to avoid this if possible. Why? Because there tend to be side effects if alcohol and medicine are both present in your system.

How to Prevent These Headaches

Everyone doesn’t like headaches because they ruin your day, prevent you from doing things, and give you lots of discomforts. So to avoid headaches, there are some preventative measures you can take.

Drink in moderation

If drinking beer brings on headaches for you, abstaining entirely may be the best. If you find, on the other hand, that drinking in moderation does not appear to bring on your attacks, then you should be sure to limit the amount of beer you consume when you do imbibe.

Try different beers

Trying different beers can help you find the beer that doesn’t trigger your headaches. You might find this odd, but some beers are made with different ingredients, and some chemicals that trigger these can be absent.

For example, if the chemical congener causes you more headaches than other compounds, drinking brews with less congener, like a light lager, can help you prevent headaches.

Drink plenty of water

Drinking too much beer can cause you to urinate more than usual, making you dehydrated and triggering headaches. So to avoid this, drink plenty of water to refill your body with clean liquid and to neutralize the alcohol you have taken.


Did this article give you the enlightenment you need for your question, “Why does beer give me a headache?” If it did, then that’s great! You are now ready to enjoy your next glass of beer, but no more painful headaches this time!

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