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Alcohol intoxication during cluster


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I am an episodic suffered for over 15 years.  Recent cycle has been ongoing 2+ months, which is longer than usual.  Attacks are more frequent as well, 1-2/daytime and between 3-6/night time.  Oxygen works as always, but sleep is very disturbed.  Unfortunately, busting this time around has not proved beneficial and no relief from the D3 regimen either.  In years past I would find that alcohol would bring on a headache, but continuing to drink and "get drunk," they would subside for the evening and I could get a full nights sleep.  Also, found that I might even get a couple nights of attack free seep following an evening of acute alcohol intoxication.  I usually just avoided alcohol and the cluster never lasted much longer than a month so never put much thought in to it.

 With the new cycle, I avoid alcohol as usual; however, on a couple occasions I have sat down in the evening and drank vodka and Monster energy until it put me to sleep - as I had read about how wine/beer is higher in histamine levels and can bring on attack quicker than a drink of vodka/gin.  I sleep the night without an attack.  The next day is kind of rough as I have a bit of a hangover and I have a constant pain behind my eye where the attacks always occur - but it never materializes into an attack.  Thing is, the next 1-2 nights following, I am attack free.  Then a night with mild attacks until they are back to baseline attacks during my cluster.  I have looked into the effects of alcohol intoxication on increase/decrease levels of prolactin and cortisol as they relate to blood pressure etc. and effects the intoxication has on the hypothalamus.  I even brought up the fact of intoxication and a couple attack free nights with my neurologist - but he didn't seem to want to promote getting drunk to periodically lessen attacks or the relationship of the two, if any, - which is understandable.

Sorry for the long post, just wanted to see if anyone had any input on the issue or had any similar experiences.

Jay.

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First of all, my advice for everybody is to avoid alcohol completely in life in general and especially in treating clusters, no matter what you can achieve using it treatment wise.

Personally, younger drinking too much, to the point of passing out provided me with a "shield" - a time period inside which cluster attacks did not happen. I drank more and more and during years this time period got shorter to the point when alcohol did not build this shield at all anymore. And I had a huge alcohol problem. Back then I used to think it lessened my attacks, I don't anymore - I think I got them back in spades later on.

I have chatted with quite a few (usually male) clusterheads over the years who use alcohol for this shielding effect. I believe in the point when this is happening everyone is still quite manageable episodic. I don't want to encourage anyone to try or use it because there are healthier alternatives, for the brain and for life and people around us. But it's an interesting phenomenon which should be looked at that might help us understand clusters better and get us closer to finding the "cure".

The other side of the coin; guys who have stopped using alcohol altogether at some point of their lives and have decades to look at cluster-wise usually notice there is some kind of correlation with no alcohol (different mind set) - no clusters (severe cycles).

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As a rule I agree with my mother:  "alcohol is no ones friend"  The use of alcohol while in cycle is likely to make it worse overall.  This is a pretty well described pattern in cluster headaches.  You can try and nuance it with histamine this and sleep that but unless you are the exception alcohol in cycle will potentiate things either by triggering an attack, potentiating a cycle or making the headaches worse.  Like LSD is LSD alcohol is still alcohol.  The stuff that makes each spirit unique may mitigate things a bit but if you choose to drink while in cycle for whatever the reason ou will have to accept the consequences.  Its not fair but it is the way it is.

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yes I have also realized and mention the affects of alcohol on not only triggering but blocking cluster headache's. but the underlined question here is what if any chemicals are at work with the body to produce this blocking affect. can they be artificially produced? it just seems to me its an avenue to venture down. 4 month PF. loving the time away. ;)

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Hey 4Runner,

Let me offer a different perspective.

I'm a chronic cluster head and have had them year round since they started in Jan 2007. That said, the last few years they have been incredibly mild, short and rare. 1-2 a month that might reach KIP 2 or 3. This is largely... who am I kidding... this is ENTIRELY down to an aggressive busting regimen that I started back when they were really bad (2-5 attacks a day, every 2-3 days with each attack lasting 1-3 hours, for a year). 

Thankfully, alcohol isn't a trigger for me because I sometimes - rarely, but sometimes - use it to terminate a migraine as I am also a chronic migraine sufferer. Last year I was getting 25+ a month on a regular basis. Thankfully, most were short and treatable with triptans. But, 2-3 times a year I'll get a migraine that lasts 3+ days and triptans have no effect. When I reach day 3 and nothing has worked to alleviate the pain, I turn to vodka. 

I am sure to get only the good stuff. Russian Standard is my go to, but Absolut Vodka and Smirnoff are OK too. The better quality of vodka the less likely you are to have a hangover. Don't buy cheap vodka, it's a waste of money.

I sit down with a shot glass and a chaser - used to be coke when I drank coke, now will be lemonade, or ice tea or pineapple juice or something. I will proceed to drink 9-12 shots of vodka over the course of an hour or so.

The trick to avoid a hangover is to have 1-2 large glasses of water before bed. Hangovers are the result of the body getting dehydrated because of the alcohol, and your blood vessels shrink, and they hurt when they shrink. Once you have a hangover, it's too late. You have to suffer through it. But, if you preempt it by loading your body up with water before you go to bed, then you don't get dehydrated during the night. No hangover. I haven't had a hangover in 12 years. Some people take Anadin, Paracetamol or Asprin with the 2 glasses of water, but I found it wasn't necessary. 

I'll usually still have the migraine when I go to bed, but will wake up absolutely fine the next morning. 

On those very rare occasions when I'm out drinking with friends, I always order a pint of water with my last round, and then have another pint of water when I get home. The last time I drank a lot was several years ago in Scotland at a wedding reception for my best friend. I was doing shots of vodka with Vodka & Coke chasers, and I stopped counting somewhere around 12 or 13. There are chunks of the night that I don't remember. But, I had a glass of water with my last round and another when I got to the hotel. I got up about 7:30 the next morning, had breakfast with friends then got my camera and when shooting around the Scottish countryside for a few hours before the drive home. Not bragging, just saying the water thing works.  

An English Breakfast is a great way to reload the body with nutrients the next day. I typically have Bacon, Eggs, Sausage, hash browns and toast. Not quite a Full English, but it does the trick. Regardless, get plenty of protein in you the next morning. 

I told both my GP and my Neurologist about this method back when I as routinely having migraines that lasted 2 - 7 days. They both advised that I only use it as a last resort as my body will build up a tolerance, and I'll need more and more alcohol in order to reach pain free status. I took their advice, and only use it when nothing else works. Thankfully, I don't have to do it that often any more, and I rarely drink otherwise. Although, I normally keep a bottle, or 1/2 bottle of vodka in the freezer, just in case I need it. 

I understand the points the other posters made, and I'm not here to promote alcohol consumption. But, if it works, don't knock it. If it buys you a good night's sleep and a day or two pain free, go for it. Just find the best way to do it, use caution and be smart about it. And, when the pain is gone, leave the alcohol alone. You don't want to build up a tolerance for it. 

I hope my tips help reduce the hangover. 

Mox

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  • 1 month later...

Just thinking about drinking during a cycle makes me lay on the floor in a fetal position and whimper.  I guess that has its positives since if it was prophylactic then  I would surely drink unhealthy amounts.

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  • 4 months later...
On 4/4/2020 at 4:31 AM, plhbn said:

Just thinking about drinking during a cycle makes me lay on the floor in a fetal position and whimper.  I guess that has its positives since if it was prophylactic then  I would surely drink unhealthy amounts.

I hear ya. When I was going through my cycle, thinking of that was making my head want to hurt. My medicine, Flurnarizine/Sibelium, is listed as a prophylactic. I can't seem to find any reports about this mixing the two is bad (other than that it may cause drowsiness). I'm no longer in a cluster cycle, just the aftermath of it. I'm supposed to take my meds for a total of 6 months before I stop. Kinda wanting a drink or two, haha.

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