What is a Hangover and Why do we Get Them?

While consuming alcohol can be fun at the time, it can lead to a challenging day-after.  Headache, fatigue, and dehydration are just some of the symptoms that someone can experience after a night out.  Hangovers are caused by factors including the effect of alcohol on the body’s systems. How long hangovers last depends on each individual.  


How Much is Too Much

It is not possible to predict how much alcohol can be ingested without having a hangover because it depends on the individual, whether they drank water along with the alcohol, and how much they slept afterward.  For men, 5-7 cocktails consumed over a four-to-six hour period usually leads to a hangover.   Women experience a hangover even quicker with only 3-5 drinks. This is because women are often smaller than men and they metabolize alcohol differently.  


Hangover Symptoms

There are several symptoms that can appear when someone has too much to drink.  They usually begin the next morning after consumption when the blood alcohol drops, and hangover recovery begins.


Dehydration:  Alcohol increases urine production, causing the body to become dehydrated.  This can manifest as increased thirst, weakness, and dizziness. With increased water intake, dehydration can be reversed in a few hours.


Headache: One of the most common symptoms of a hangover, a headache is caused by the widening of blood vessels.  


Stomach Issues:  An upset stomach can also occur with a hangover.  Alcohol consumption raises the production of stomach acids.  Depending on what food (or not) was consumed while drinking, you might feel nauseous, have a stomachache or even vomit.  Eat bland food, like crackers, to settle the stomach. 


Low Blood Sugar:  Excessive alcohol lessens the reserves of glucose in the liver.  Since glucose is an energy source, low blood sugar can lead to fatigue and weakness.  


Fatigue:  Alcohol disrupts sleep patterns making for shorter sleep periods and poorer sleep quality, which can make you feel tired and sluggish.


Mood Changes:  In addition to physical symptoms, anxiety levels can be elevated.  There also might be feelings of shame or depression.


Immune System Changes:  Alcohol can trigger an inflammatory response that affects appetite and concentration.  


Hangover Recovery

The only way to guarantee you won’t get a hangover is by abstaining from alcohol.  If you do drink, make sure it is in moderation and that you drink water in addition to the alcohol. The body processes alcohol at a certain rate and if alcohol is consumed before the body can recover, the chances of a hangover increase.   

In order to accelerate your hangover recovery, rest and rehydrate.  Eat a small meal that is high in antioxidants, like grapes, carrots, or cherries.  Take Ivita in order to give you hangover support.  The good news is that hangovers usually go away within 24 hours.