A hangover headache is quite common after a bout of excessive drinking, and the best form of treatment is prevention by drinking in moderation. Once the hangover headache has developed, there are a few tips that may help the affected person function normally a bit sooner than without treatment. The caffeine in coffee may help to constrict the blood vessels, often easing the pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen may also be useful. Aspirin is not usually advised as an effective way to treat a hangover headache, as aspirin has a strong tendency to irritate the stomach lining.
Drinking slowly and in moderation is often the best way to prevent the development of a hangover headache. When drinking, it is wise to have a non-alcoholic drink between each drink containing alcohol. Red wine is more prone to causing a headache than white wine, and beverages mixed with fruit juices are less likely to cause a headache than shots. Slowly sipping each drink may help the body absorb the alcohol more slowly and prevent a headache from occurring.
If a person plans on drinking heavily, eating a greasy meal, such as a hamburger and fries, may slow the absorption of the alcohol and reduce the chances of developing a hangover headache. Many people report that consuming honey just before or after drinking helps to prevent a hangover headache. Fruit juice may have the same effect, as the natural sugars seem to be responsible for headache prevention.
After the headache has developed, many people like to drink coffee and for good reason. The caffeine improves blood flow to the brain and can be quite helpful in alleviating a headache. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may work better when combining them with caffeine. For this reason, some non-prescription pain relievers actually contain both the pain medication and caffeine.
Dehydration may be a contributing factor in the presence of a hangover headache, as alcohol can drain the body of necessary fluids and minerals. This is another good reason to alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Consuming salty foods such as soups or broths may help to ease the headache. Eating a healthy snack may also help the body recover more quickly from the headache. If possible, it may be beneficial to stay in a quiet, dark room until the pain has eased and the affected person can resume a normal level of functioning.