Hangover symptoms typically begin when your blood alcohol drops significantly and is at or near zero. They're usually in full effect the morning after a night of heavy drinking. Depending on what you drank and how much you drank, you may notice:
- Headaches and muscle aches
- Nausea, vomiting or stomach pain
- Poor or decreased sleep
- Increased sensitivity to light and sound
- Dizziness or a sense of the room spinning
- Rapid heartbeat
- Red, bloodshot eyes
- Decreased ability to concentrate
- Mood disturbances, such as depression, anxiety and irritability
When to see a doctor
Hangovers go away on their own. Talk with your doctor if you're concerned that frequent, heavy drinking or hangovers are affecting your quality of life, including your personal relationships or your performance at work. Treatment for alcohol abuse or dependence is available.
More-severe signs and symptoms that accompany heavy drinking may indicate alcohol poisoning — a life-threatening emergency.
Call 911 or your local emergency number if a person who has been drinking steadily develops:
Dec. 14, 2011
- Confusion or stupor, as if in a daze
- Vomiting that persists
- Slow breathing (less than eight breaths a minute)
- Irregular breathing
- Blue-tinged skin or pale skin
- Low body temperature (hypothermia)
- Unconsciousness — "passing out"
- Beyond hangovers: Understanding alcohol's impact on your health. National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm. Accessed Oct. 5, 2011.
- Prat G, et al. Alcohol hangover: A critical review of explanatory factors. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental. 2009;24:259.
- The incidence and severity of hangover the morning after moderate alcohol intoxication. Howland J, et al. Addiction. 2008;103:758.
- Maranan J. Too much fun? Natural Health. 2010;41:1.
- Verster JC. The alcohol hangover - A puzzling phenomenon. Alcohol & Alcoholism. 2008;43:124.
- Alcohol use and health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm. Accessed Oct. 5, 2011.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 14, 2011.
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