January 29, 2013

Wright State Physicians headache specialist advises—
Keep the romance in Valentine’s Day: avoid red wine and chocolate

red wine and chocolatesAre you planning a romantic dinner for two on Valentine’s Day? If you are among the 18 percent of U.S. women or 6 percent of U.S. men who suffer from migraine headaches, you might want to avoid the combination of red wine and chocolate.

Glen D. Solomon, M.D., a Wright State Physicians headache specialist, cautions those who suffer from migraine headaches to stay away from chocolate and red wine. “We warn people about the risk of migraines so it doesn’t take the romance out of the holiday,” he said.

He explained that there are certain substances in foods that act on blood vessels or the brain that may trigger migraines. “Tannins in red wine and in whiskeys are migraine triggers,” said Solomon, who also is the chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. “Chemicals in chocolate can also affect some migraine sufferers. Combining trigger factors increases the risk of getting a migraine attack.”

In addition to red wine and chocolate, consumption of aged cheeses, lack of sleep, skipping meals, stress and weather changes can trigger migraines. People who experience migraines often have blurred vision or a blind spot before the headache starts. They might experience throbbing pain on one side of the head. Bright lights and loud noises can make a migraine headache worse. Some experience nausea and vomiting.

Many people control their migraines with over-the counter medications. “People whose quality of life is impaired because of migraines should see a physician,” said Solomon, who is the co-author of two textbooks on headache medicine and has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and 35 book chapters on headaches and migraines. “For people who have not had successful treatment from their primary care physicians, seeing a headache specialist is an option.”


The Science of Medicine. The Art of Healing