Explaining The Science Of A Hangover In 5 Minutes

Borrowing a bit of tomorrow’s happiness can leave you feeling a bit unwell. We’ve all been there; after a nice night out, you wake up the next morning to a bunch of embarrassing videos and an epic headache!

Alcohol is guilty as charged when it comes to hangovers! One too many drinks later, you find yourself with a nasty hangover the next day, forgetting all those shots you’ve taken the night before!

While you might be up for having a good time out with your friends, celebrating your vaccinations, and breaking the seal of your lockdown sobriety, you might be wondering how alcohol affects your body. Here’s all you need to know about drinking.

Effects Of Alcohol On Your Body

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Alcohol, just like any other substance, causes effects within your body. When you’re out drinking and you want to pee, you’ve probably heard someone yell, “don’t break the seal,” that’s because it’s a diuretic.

That means it makes you pee a lot, so you’ll be peeing out all your body’s hydration. And generally, when you’re out drinking, you’re not replenishing your lost water, so you’re going to end up dehydrated!

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Alcohol irritates your stomach and increases acid production, leading to inflammation of your gut, making you feel sick, and even experience pain in your tummy. You feel sick because as your body digests the alcohol, it creates enzymes that make you want to throw up.

Drinking also causes an electrolyte imbalance, lowers your blood sugar, and dilates your blood vessels. And if you didn’t already know, it prevents you from getting the best sleep which is why you feel so drained!

All these effects leave you with a headache, irritable, tired, and nauseous; some people may experience tummy pains and even diarrhea from drinking. How much you drink determines how severe these symptoms will be.

Do Certain Alcohols Give You A Worse Hangover?

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Pick your poison; whatever you choose determines how bad your hangover will be. Alcohol contains congeners that give your alcohol that unique flavor and are present in liquors that have undergone the process of fermentation.

Congeners are higher in darker liquors like wine and bourbon but lower in clear alcohols like vodka and gin; sometimes, vodka may not even contain any congeners. The more congeners a liquor has, the more intense your hangover will be!

Are You More Prone To Hangovers?

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Some people don’t even have to have a night of hard drinking to have a hangover. Shy people experience anxiety when they’re hungover and make the symptoms worse.

Believe it or not, your genes can determine how sensitive you are to alcohol, making you feel the effects of dilation quicker. So just one drink can have you sweating and feeling flushed!

If you’re younger, female, and are sick often, you’re also more likely to suffer from a hangover! Bad habits like smoking, staying up late, and drug use can also make your symptoms worse!

Curing A Hangover

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Hangovers usually go away on their own within a day; you might even experience it coming and going.  You typically have to wait it out, but there are some things you can do to make yourself feel better sooner!

Don’t try the “hair of the dog” method; you’re going to further dehydrate yourself or create a dependency on alcohol. Not to mention your liver has been working hard digesting the alcohol from the night before, so best not to overwhelm it!

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The general rule of thumb is to keep yourself hydrated, so get in your fluids, whether it’s water, tea, or even sports drinks! Sports drinks and soup broths are generally favored because they help replenish those electrolytes!

Grab a bite to eat, and go haywire on the carbs! No, really, they help stabilize your blood sugar levels and can even settle your stomach if you’ve been hugging the bucket all morning!

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An antacid like an Alka-Seltzer or even Pepto-Bismol can also help settle your stomach. If you want to go the herbal route, you can try drinking a tablespoon of ginger mixed in some hot water.

If you can’t handle the pounding in your head, you can always take aspirin or an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. NEVER take a Tylenol because it interacts with alcohol which is toxic for your liver!

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Because alcohol messes with your sleep, go back to bed, get the rest you need! You might be sensitive to lights and sound, so make sure you rest up in the quiet dark, but if you’re still struggling when you wake up, you can always treat the existing symptoms.

Before you drink next time, make sure you eat because it helps with the absorption of alcohol. Your hangover might not be as severe, and if it is, at least you’re equipped to overcome it!

Written By:
Dr Saadiqah Hajat

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