Hangovers 101

With Christmas Party Season coming up, most of us are bound to suffer the next day with feelings of nausea, headache, tiredness and anxiety… aka a hangover!

But what is a hangover? 

Whilst alcohol might make you feel like a superhero-dancing queen at the time, the effects of alcohol linger in your body a lot longer than your night out. A hangover is the result of multiple effects of alcohol on your body:

  1. Dehydration - Hangovers are largely due to alcohol being a diuretic meaning it causes you to wee more which can lead to dehydration.
  2. Direct effects of alcohol - when alcohol is metabolised by your body it can also release metabolites called acetaldehyde which makes you feel pretty rubbish.
  3. Poor sleep – although you might feel tired after drinking and feel like you ‘passed out’, alcohol actually disturbs your normal sleep cycle resulting in poor quality sleep.
  4. Effects on the brain – alcohol causes vasodilation (widening of your blood vessels), which is why you might get flushed cheeks after that glass of wine! If this happens in the brain it can result in a headache.
  5. It irritates your stomach lining – and other parts of your digestive system which can contribute to feeling of sickness the next day.

Do they get worse with age?

From a scientific perspective, hangovers do actually get worse with age. This is for multiple reasons, one of them being that as we age our body composition changes and we tend to carry more body fat compared to water. This means the alcohol is more concentrated in our blood and can have a greater effect. As we age, our metabolisms slow down meaning those pesky metabolites of alcohol (mentioned earlier in the article) hang around longer dragging out the hangover! Last but not least, the more you drink, the more your body adapts to be able to metabolise the alcohol faster*. As we get older, we tend to drink less frequently, meaning when we do… it hits us hard!

*Please remember to drink responsibly - https://www.drinkaware.co.uk

See also, hangover remedy capsules

Author: Dr Frankie Jackson-Spence