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Reader’s Mail: Could Club Soda Trigger Headaches?


Q. Can club soda cause migraines? I recently attended two parties and drank several glasses. Both times I woke up the next morning with a terrible headache.

A. There is no data that I can find that suggests that club soda is a risk factor for migraine headaches. In fact, because it is decaffeinated, unsweetened and devoid of other additives that are associated with migraine (aspartame, phenylethylamine, etc.), it is less likely to cause migraines.

It is true that the nature of migraines is to be sensitive to triggers that others are not, but food triggers are tricky. We sometimes blame certain foods for triggering our migraines when it is actually that we crave those foods when a migraine is coming on. For example, women often crave chocolate when they are premenstrual. This is a time when women are more prone to get migraines, but they often blame the chocolate for triggering the headache rather than hormones. Some foods seem to only trigger headaches some of the time. Alcohol is more likely to trigger headaches if you are overtired, hungry and stressed, but may not be a problem when you are well-rested, drinking with a healthy meal and having a good day.

I usually recommend that you keep track of triggers, but not obsess about them. If something always gives you a headache and you can avoid it, you should do so. However, you also have to look at other factors in play that might have been the real trigger. For example, were you avoiding alcohol at the parties because you already felt the headaches coming on? Were you anxious about attending the parties?

Susan M. Rubin, M.D.
NorthShore University HealthSystem
Glenview, IL

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