Hangovers are caused by drinking too much alcohol. A single alcoholic drink is enough to trigger a hangover for some people, while others may drink heavily and escape a hangover entirely.
Various factors may contribute to a hangover. For example:
Dec. 20, 2014
- Alcohol causes your body to produce more urine. In turn, urinating more than usual can lead to dehydration — often indicated by thirst, dizziness and lightheadedness.
- Alcohol triggers an inflammatory response from your immune system. Your immune system may trigger certain agents that commonly produce physical symptoms, such as an inability to concentrate, memory problems, decreased appetite and loss of interest in usual activities.
- Alcohol irritates the lining of your stomach. Alcohol increases the production of stomach acid and delays stomach emptying. Any of these factors can cause abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting.
- Alcohol can cause your blood sugar to fall. If your blood sugar dips too low, you may experience fatigue, weakness, shakiness, mood disturbances and even seizures.
- Alcohol causes your blood vessels to expand, which can lead to headaches.
- Alcohol can make you sleepy, but your quality of sleep will decrease. This may leave you groggy and tired.
- Alcoholic beverages contain ingredients called congeners, which give many types of alcoholic beverages their flavor and can contribute to hangovers. Congeners are found in larger amounts in dark liquors, such as brandy and whiskey, than in clear liquors, such as vodka and gin.
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- Alcohol use and health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm. Accessed Nov. 10, 2014.
- The elusive hangover cure. British Columbia Drug and Poison Information Centre. http://dpic.org/article/professional/elusive-hangover-cure. Accessed Nov. 10, 2014.
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- Penning R, et al. Cognitive aspects: Alcohol hangover symptoms and their contribution to the overall hangover severity. Alcohol and Alcoholism. 2012;47:248.
- Alcohol overdose: The dangers of drinking too much. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AlcoholOverdoseFactsheet/Overdosefact.htm. Accessed Nov. 10, 2014.
- A word about alcohol poisoning. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-poisoning. Accessed Nov. 10, 2014.
- Schneekloth TD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 6, 2014.
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