Drink a flute filled with sparkling wine like Champagne, Kava, or Prosecco and you may feel the alcohol go right to your head. The bubbly effervescence that makes Champagne so delightful is the same reason that causes headaches. Learn the science behind the brain pain and you can take steps to prevent your next Champagne headache.
What Causes Champagne Headaches?
Blame it on the bubbles. Like all carbonated beverages, Champagne contains tiny little pockets of carbon dioxide. The satisfying fizz in soft drinks and sparkling wine is created when carbon dioxide gas under pressure is dissolved in a liquid.
Champagne feels like it goes right to your brain because it does. The carbon dioxide gas bubbles in Champagne help your body to absorb the alcohol faster. The bubbles increase the pressure in your stomach, which forces alcohol out through your stomach’s lining and into your bloodstream for faster absorption. In your bloodstream, the carbon dioxide competes with oxygen, which is why champagne makes you feel dizzy. You’ll also get drunk faster – and your hangover will be worse.
Sipping Champagne for Science
A 2001 study at the University of Surrey reported on the BBC compared the blood alcohol levels of volunteers who drank two glasses of fizzy champagne vs. flat champagne. After five minutes, the bubble drinkers had an average of 0.54 milligrams of alcohol per milliliter of blood. Those who drank flat champagne had an average of 0.39 milligrams.
The ability of bubbles to intoxicate you more quickly is paired with all of the other reasons why any alcohol gives you a headache. Alcohol is a sugary diuretic that causes dehydration, drops blood sugar levels, and disrupts your sleep. It’s the perfect recipe for a headache. Carbonation speeds up the delivery system and therefore enhances all of the effects of alcohol that you experience, including the hangover headache.
Champagne Headache Relief
Don’t want to give up your beloved bubbles? While the only foolproof way to avoid a hangover is not to drink any alcohol, there are steps you can take to prevent headaches and provide headache relief.
- Don’t drink Champagne on an empty stomach. Eating a light, healthy meal will help slow the absorption of alcohol.
- Sip your sparkling wine as slowly as possible.
- Drink one glass of water with every glass of Champagne to reduce dehydration – or at least down a glass before you go to bed.
- Have a coffee (or two) or take a couple of caffeine pills. Caffeine constricts the blood vessels in your brain, which can reduce your brain pain. Most migraine and headache relief medicines contain caffeine.
- Take a B vitamin complex containing B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), folic acid, B6. and B12. Drinking alcohol depletes your body’s store of these essential compounds. Having low levels of B vitamins can make your headaches worse. Be sure to talk to your medical professional before taking any new supplement, including vitamins.
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