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I drank about 200ml of Lagavulin (whiskey) today and about three hours later headaches started. Usually a hangover takes some time to develop and after that amount of alcohol I do not have a hangover at all. I also drank a lot of water today. Recently I think I had this several times that the headaches started pretty soon after moderate consumption of alcohol. I drink once in a few weeks.

Is it plausible that his is actually a hangover? Is this not too soon? Could the headaches be caused by something else related to the consumption of alcohol like for example blood pressure? What would be the most plausible cause?

  • Welcome to Health Stack Exchange. I have posted an answer below. Personal medical questions are actually off-topic for this site. You can read more information here: health.stackexchange.com/help – Chris Aug 12 '18 at 22:28
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    Thanks. Lets consider this a general question containing a real life example then. This was the intention behind the question anyway. – doc Aug 12 '18 at 22:43
  • Sounds good to me! :) – Chris Aug 12 '18 at 22:44
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This is probably not a hangover, as it is too soon for what most people refer to as a hangover. It is more likely due to the direct effects of alcohol itself, or perhaps something else in the drink. As is often the way with the human body, there can be several factors interacting together (these include the drink, hydration, liver function, environmental conditions, food etc).

This information is taken from The National Headache Foundation in the US:

Alcohol, which is consumed in beverages such as liquor, wine and beer, is a chemical called ethanol. Ethanol may cause headaches by several means. First, it is a direct vasodilator; in some individuals vasodilation may cause a headache. Second, ethanol is a natural diuretic; this leads to excretion of salt, vitamins and minerals from the body through the kidneys. Excess consumption of ethanol may produce dehydration and chemical imbalances in the body. Except in “moonshine,” we consume ethanol in beverages that contain other chemicals. These chemicals are called congeners. Congeners impart the specific tastes and flavors that make each beverage unique. These congeners also have a variety of effects that can cause headaches.

So the three ways alcohol can cause a headache are:

  1. Direct vasodilation effect (dilates blood vessels)
  2. Diuretic effect
  3. The effect of other components on the drink

If your whisky was about 40% alcohol, 200ml would be about 8 units of ethanol, which is definitely enough to have an effect.

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