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Hangover Cures, Causes and Home Remedies

  • Published: 2009-01-16 (Revised/Updated 2017-01-16) : Disabled World (Disabled World).
  • Synopsis: Bad hangover? Information on hangover causes, prevention of alcohol effects, and home remedies to cure hangovers and headaches.
Hangover

A hangover is a group of unpleasant signs and symptoms that can develop after drinking too much alcohol. Typical symptoms of a hangover may include headache, drowsiness, concentration problems, dry mouth, dizziness, fatigue, gastrointestinal distress, absence of hunger, sweating, nausea, hyper-excitability and anxiety. Studies show that alcohol hangover is associated with a decrease in blood glucose concentration (less than 70 ml/dl), but the relationship between blood glucose concentration and hangover severity is unclear. Also known as insulin shock, hypoglycemia can lead to coma or even death. As a general rule, the more alcohol you drink, the more likely you are to have a hangover the next day. But there's no magic formula to tell you how much you can safely drink and still avoid a hangover.

Main Document

Quote: "A persons weight is a major factor in how your body absorbs alcohol, the less you weigh the more you'll feel it."

What is a Hangover? A hangover, or veisalgia, is the unpleasant effects following heavy consumption of alcohol. Hangovers can last up to two or three days after excessive alcohol is consumed. Common symptoms of a hangover include headache, nausea, lethargy, dysphoria, sensitivity to light and/or noise, and thirst.

There are some lucky people who never experience a hangover!

Around 25 to 30% of drinkers do not suffer hangover symptoms. It is said people with allergies to wheat, barley, corn, or yeast often have the worst hangovers.

A persons weight is a major factor in how your body absorbs alcohol, the less you weigh the more you'll feel it. Plus the older you are, the more you will feel the effects of alcohol consumption the next morning.

What Causes a Hangover

Acetaldehyde intoxication, hypoglycemia, dehydration, and vitamin B12 deficiency are all known to be causes of hangover symptoms.

Picture from a scene in the movie The Hangover
About This Image: Picture from a scene in the movie The Hangover
As well as being toxic, alcohol due to the ethanol (a diuretic) contained in it, has a dehydrating effect by causing increased urine production, which causes headaches, dry mouth, and lethargy. This diuretic also causes dehydration and metabolic disturbance, especially of the kidneys, as alcohol will cause the kidneys to stop absorbing water and send it to the bladder instead. This causes your brain to become dehydrated and it starts to shrink, causing your brain to stretch away from the inside of your skull, this is where the hangover headache comes into play. This can be somewhat helped by drinking water or an oral electrolyte solution after heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Nausea is often a characteristic of a hangover and is caused by the alcohol's effect on the stomach lining. Because of the increased NADH production during metabolism of ethanol, excess NADH can build up and slow down gluconeogenesis in the liver, thus causing hypoglycemia, also called low blood sugar, which occurs when your blood glucose or blood sugar level drops too low to provide enough energy for your body's activities.

Another factor contributing to a hangover are the products from the breakdown of ethanol via liver enzymes. This diverts pyruvate from other pathways such as gluconeogenesis impairing the ability of the liver to supply glucose to tissues, especially the brain. As glucose is the primary energy source of your brain, a lack of glucose will contribute to a hangover causing symptoms such as weakness, mood disturbances, fatigue, and decreased concentration or attention.

The presence of other alcohol by products of the fermentation stage in producing alcoholic drinks may exaggerate a hangover, which accounts for the mitigation of the effects when distilled alcohol, particularly vodka, is consumed.

Removal of the depressive effects of alcohol in your brain accounts for noise and light sensitivity.

Which Alcoholic Drinks Cause the Worst Hangovers

Avoid drinks that contain large amounts of congeners, as these cause more severe hangovers. Generally, these are dark colored drinks like red wine, brandy, and port. The darker the alcohol, the worse the hangover is the saying. Organic wine and spirits are said to be a little easier on your system.

Tips to Prevent Hangovers:

Before you start drinking alcohol:

As you are drinking:

When you get back home:

Alphabetical List of Home Remedy Hangover Cures:

The chemistry of hangovers video

In this video clip we look at the chemistry behind the effects of a hangover, and offer some tips to limit its symptoms.

Facts: Alcohol and Congeners

A distilled beverage, spirit, liquor, or hard liquor is an alcoholic beverage produced by distillation of a mixture produced from alcoholic fermentation. This process purifies it and removes diluting components like water, for the purpose of increasing its proportion of alcohol content (commonly known as alcohol by volume, ABV). As distilled beverages contain more alcohol they are considered "harder". In North America, the term hard liquor is used to distinguish distilled beverages from undistilled ones, which are implicitly weaker.

In alcoholic beverages, congeners are substances other than alcohol produced during fermentation. These substances include small amounts of chemicals such as methanol and other alcohols (known as fusel alcohols), acetone, acetaldehyde, esters, tannins, and aldehydes (e.g. furfural). Congeners are responsible for most of the taste and aroma of distilled alcoholic beverages, and contribute to the taste of non-distilled drinks. It has been suggested that these substances contribute to the symptoms of a hangover. Congeners are also used by forensic toxicologists to determine what a person drank in a sub-discipline called alcohol congener analysis.

Statistics: Hangover

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