Why Does Alcohol Cause a Hangover?

Alcohol is served all over the world and drinking it is considered pretty normal especially in the U.S. From college parties to weddings; it is popular and a part of a lot of social activities. Drinking alcohol should be enjoyed in moderation though. Most of us have gotten to the point of drinking where we have drunk too much and awoke the next morning with a hangover.

That nauseous feeling along with a pounding headache that seems nothing can cure. What’s even worse is you know you need to eat and drink water but there is nothing least you’d rather do because of the feeling you could throw up at any minute. Most of us vow never to drink again cause we never want to feel that way again, but that usually never happens.

Why Does Alcohol Cause a Hangover?

Why Do We Get a Hangover After Heavy Drinking?

So, what is a hangover? What causes us to feel so awful after a night of heavy drinking? Why does alcohol cause hangovers?

A hangover causes certain symptoms as a consequence of excessive drinking. The usual symptoms include fatigue, weakness, thirst, headache, muscle aches, nausea, stomach pain, vertigo, and sensitivity to light and sound, anxiety, irritability, sweating, and increased blood pressure. A hangover can vary from person to person.

Other factors that may make the hangover worse are how much sugar is in alcoholic beverages such as a pina colada or strawberry daiquiri. Also, sulfites in wine for preservatives can cause a headache to those who are sensitive.

What Exactly Causes a Hangover?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), there are several factors including:

  • Mild dehydration: Alcohol suppresses the release of vasopressin, a hormone produced by the brain that sends signals to the kidneys causing them to retain fluid. As a result, alcohol increases urination and excess loss of fluids. The mild dehydration that results likely contributes to hangover symptoms such as thirst, fatigue, and a headache.
  • Disrupted sleep: People may fall asleep faster after drinking alcohol, but their sleep is fragmented, and they tend to wake up earlier. This contributes to fatigue, as well as lost productivity.
  • Gastrointestinal irritation: Alcohol directly irritates the lining of the stomach and increases acid release. This can lead to nausea and stomach discomfort.
  • Inflammation: Alcohol increases inflammation in the body. Inflammation contributes to the malaise that people feel when they are sick, so it may play a role in hangover symptoms as well.
  • Acetaldehyde exposure: Alcohol metabolism, primarily by the liver, creates the compound acetaldehyde, a toxic, short-lived byproduct, which contributes to inflammation in the liver, pancreas, brain, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs.
  • Mini-withdrawal: While drinking, individuals may feel calmer, more relaxed, and even euphoric, but the brain quickly adjusts to those positive effects as it tries to maintain balance. As a result, when the buzz wears off, people can feel more restless and anxious than before they drank.

There is no real way of telling how many drinks will cause a hangover. It varies by person as well as other contributors throughout that day. Hangovers usually start as soon as all the alcohol has left your system and lasts up to 24 hours or longer.

Drinking Too Much Alcohol is Dangerous

Drinking too much can lead to health problems, dependency, and alcohol addiction. Alcoholics become dependent on alcohol when they mentally obsess and physically cannot abstain from drinking due to the fears and pains of withdrawal. This can happen after continuous heavy drinking for years, months, and even weeks, depending on how much and how often alcohol is being consumed.

Treatment for Alcoholism

If you or someone you love needs alcohol treatment in New Jersey, you’ve come to the right place at Garden State Treatment Center and we’re very glad that you’re here. You’ve taken the all-important first step toward relief, and that’s what we want for you and your family. Start Healing Today at Garden State Treatment Center.