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 and how much you drank, you may notice:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Thirst
  • 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
  • Shakiness
  • Decreased ability to concentrate
  • Mood disturbances, such as depression, anxiety and irritability
  • Rapid heartbeat

When to see a doctor

Hangovers after a single night's drinking go away on their own. Talk with your doctor if you're concerned that frequent, heavy drinking may lead to serious alcohol withdrawal, or when regular hangovers affect your quality of life, including your personal relationships or your performance at work. Treatment for alcohol use problems such as abuse or dependence is widely available.

When it's an emergency

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 shows signs of:

  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow breathing (less than eight breaths a minute)
  • Irregular breathing (a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths)
  • Blue-tinged skin or pale skin
  • Low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Difficulty remaining conscious
  • Passing out (unconsciousness) and can't be awakened

A person who is unconscious or can't be awakened is at risk of dying. If you suspect that someone has alcohol poisoning — even if you don't see the classic signs and symptoms — seek immediate medical care.

Dec. 20, 2014

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.