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Wine Headaches Illustrate Misconceptions about Causes

One of the reasons why headache care is so far behind other types of care is that headaches can be a very nonspecific symptom, and it’s hard to track down the cause. Heck, even if you identify a cause, you might still not know the cause. Take, for example, the problem of wine headaches, which have long had a strong misconception attached to them, one which has disparaged many of our fine California wines.

The Sulfite Mistake

Wine Headache CauseIf you’ve looked closely at a bottle of wine you bought recently, you’ve probably noticed that it has “contains sulfites” on the label. This label, imposed at the request of teetotaller Senator Strom Thurmond, is often considered as a warning because these sulfites are responsible for side effects of drinking wine, such as headaches.

The truth is that sulfites are an integral part of wine, and that the sulfites added to wine aren’t harmful chemicals, they’re natural preservatives that keep the wine from going bad. And sulfites aren’t at all associated with headaches from wine.

The notion that sulfites cause headaches is related to the notion about food triggers for migraines, but now that we know food triggers have been overestimated as a cause for migraines, we realize that blaming headaches on sulfites is probably a mistake. One telling tidbit is that people tend to blame red wine headaches on sulfites, even though white wines contain more sulfites.

Instead, headaches from wine are probably related to the simplest cause of all: alcohol. Alcohol causes dilation of blood vessels (this is why it gives you flushed cheeks and nose–that’s the capillaries in your skin expanding), which is one of the causes of migraines. And alcohol creates a toxic byproduct, acetaldehyde, which damages the brain and can lead to headaches.

And then there’s dehydration. Dehydration is a common headache cause that is linked to alcohol, including wine.

And if you are looking for a culprit for why you get more or worse headaches from red wine than white, blame the two Ts: tannins and tyramine. Tannins are the dark-colored molecules commonly found in all colored liquors and contribute to worse hangovers. Tyramine is one of the stronger food triggers for migraines and other headaches.

Why Do You Get Headaches?

Just like wine headaches, you might have a hard time identifying the true cause of many headaches you suffer from on a regular basis. Stress headaches, for example, aren’t usually due to the stress itself, but to secondary effects of stress. It might not be the stress, but your response to stress, like clenching your jaw, that leads to muscle tension and headaches. These stress headaches can be worsened by TMJ, which creates an imbalance in jaw muscles that increases the tension in your head.

If you aren’t getting good results from your headache treatment in San Diego, it might be because you haven’t identified the true cause yet. For help tracking down the cause of your headaches, please call (619) 299-5925 for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at Strober Dental.

By |April 16th, 2015|Headaches, TMJ/TMD|