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Triggers

Alcohol Question

  • By BROWNH

    I was recently diagnosed with migraines but we weren’t able to find a definite trigger. Last night I had 2 Miller Lites – a brand of beer that I have consumed for over 15 years. This morning, I work up with the start of a migraine. My question is, is it common to suddenly develop a reaction to a product you have been consuming for many years? I really don’t want to cut alcohol completely out of my life as I am only 35, but the pain is just not worth it. Can anyone shed some light on this? Any similar experiences or advice?

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    brownh – There are several things here to discuss.

    It is common for our triggers to change throughout our lives. Expect it, and adjust your life accordingly when it happens. Talk to your doctor if symptoms change, just to be sure it really is your Migraines causing the problem and not something else.

    Alcohol can be a Migraine trigger. It is one of my worst, and a small drink can have me in an intractable situation in about 30 minutes, lasting sometimes for days. As much as I miss my Bailey’s over ice, I wouldn’t touch it again if my life depended upon it! I gave away all my alcohol and try not to put myself in a situation where I’m tempted. *sigh*

    Beer is made with malt. Malt is a known Migraine trigger to look out for. So, it may not actually be the alcohol, but the ingredients of the type of alcohol you were consuming. Red wine is the most well-known trigger, but don’t discount the lesser-known triggers such as yummy malt. I’m not a beer drinker myself, but used to enjoy wine coolers, which are also a malt product. And I miss an old fashioned chocolate malt too, lol. Mmmmmmm!

    One more thing:

    Don’t discount the behavior that goes along with drinking sometimes, which could be your trigger. Did your beers come with missing a good meal, not getting enough sleep or going to bed later than usual? What about the munchies you had with your beer? Were there flashing lights where you drank it? Lots of different things could be the culprit. And don’t forget – Migraine triggers are cumulative. This means that 2 beers last night triggered a Migraine today, but that might have been because of the other triggers you also had that the beer trigger stacked itself on. Beer alone, may still not be a problem.

    It will take some experimentation, which is not an easy thing to propose to someone in the throes of a Migraine attack. Maybe you don’t want to experiment with triggers at all. Then again, it sounds like missing out on your beer every once in a while would make you really sad. In that case, it might be worth investing the time (and potential attacks) to figure out what’s really going on. Only you can decide that though 🙂

    ~Ellen

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