Why You Feel the Way You Do from a Hangover

Why You Feel the Way You Do from a Hangover

January 4, 2020

With the holidays having just recently passed, there’s a good chance you’ve recently indulged, or perhaps over-indulged, in alcoholic beverages. If you’ve ever found yourself nursing a hangover the day after drinking, you might wonder exactly what in your body is causing you to feel the way you do.

So why do we get hangovers? Here’s some information you might find interesting.

The causes and effects of hangovers

Alcohol gets absorbed faster than many other types of substances, because some of it can be absorbed in the stomach rather than the small intestine. It spreads throughout the body and is distributed to all organs, including the liver and brain, where the body then attempts to break down the alcohol and dispose of it.

To break down and dispose of alcohol, the liver produces enzymes, including alcohol dehydrogenase, which breaks down the alcohol into acetaldehyde, which then further breaks down into acetic acid and finally to carbon dioxide.

During each phase of this breakdown process, energy gets released, which results in the body absorbing that energy in the form of calories. When you hear the stereotype of heavy drinkers being overweight, this is why—alcohol contains a lot of hidden calories that do not contain much in the way of proteins or vitamins.

The liver can metabolize between eight and 12 grams of alcohol per hour. The only way for your body to become less drunk is for you to stop drinking—you need to let the body do its work to metabolize the alcohol and get it out of your brain and liver.

The pain and general discomfort you feel from a hangover is an effect of ethanol and congeners, which is the non-alcoholic byproducts of fermentation. Congeners include minerals, oils and some forms of alcohol. The darker the drink, the higher the volume of congeners, which is why red wine produces a particularly potent hangover. Vodka, meanwhile, tends to be more forgiving from the hangover perspective, because it has very few congeners—it’s just alcohol and water.

You’ve probably heard that drinking water before you go to bed after drinking alcohol can help you to avoid a hangover, and this is true to an extent. Alcohol stops your pituitary gland from producing the hormone vasopressin, which is an anti-diuretic, meaning it restricts urine production. As a result, you lose more water than you take in, which causes you to get dehydrated. Dehydration leads to headaches, which are one of the most common symptoms associated with a hangover.

By hydrating before going to bed, you can at least help yourself to remove one of the factors that could make you feel lousy the next day. Always drink water if you believe a hangover will be a possibility the next day.

This should at least give you a bit of a sense of what causes hangovers and why you might feel lousy after a night of drinking. For more information about the effects of alcohol on the body and why impairment occurs, or if you need an attorney in Cincinnati, OH to help with a DUI case, reach out to Herzner Law, LLC today.

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