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Migraine Sufferers are More Prone to Hangovers

While a headache after a night of drinking may be fairly common for the general public, new studies indicate that hangovers may be more prevalent in migraine sufferers. Researchers at the Jefferson Headache Center developed a model to study the effects of alcohol on rats who suffer recurrent migraines, compared to rats that do not get headaches. The results, which were presented at Neuroscience 2009, the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, in Chicago, are quite fascinating.

Migraine headaches are associated with hypersensitivity to light, sound and light touch on the head and face. The researchers measured rats’ sensitivity to touch around the eye in four different test groups: two groups received repeated dural simulation to induce headache, followed by an oral ingestion of saline or alcohol (the equivalent of one to two shots of liquor). Two control groups did not receive any inflammatory stimulation, but received the same oral ingestion of saline or alcohol.

The rats that received the stimulation followed with alcohol had increased pain sensitivity after 4-6 hours, while the control groups had no change in pain sensitivity. The researchers made sure that dehydration and alcohol impurities were ruled out as causes of increased sensitivity by hydrating the rats and ensuring the alcohol was free of impurities.

According to study leader Dr. Michael Oshinsky, Ph.D., assistant professor of Neurology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, “the alcohol itself or a metabolite must be causing the hangover-like headache.” Dr. Oshinsky ultimately concluded that “these data confirm the clinical observation that people with migraine are more susceptible to alcohol-induced headaches.”

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