Understanding Alcohol’s Hangover Effects on Your Body

Hangover Effects on Your Body
Hangover man holding a glass with a soluble tablet. Hungover male person, headache and depression, bad morning

Many people experience hangovers after an episode of heavy drinking. Hangovers don’t just feel unpleasant or annoying. They can be acutely dangerous and lead to more problematic behaviors. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is a Hangover? 

Are you asking yourself, why does my throat hurt after drinking? Or, why am I craving a big, greasy breakfast right now? 

In its simplest form, a hangover refers to a cluster of physiological symptoms experienced after drinking. However, these symptoms can vary from person to person. Some people experience them frequently. Others rarely, if ever, experience them at all.

What Contributes to Hangover Symptoms?

A hangover represents the body’s way of processing and breaking down alcohol. The cluster of symptoms is often uncomfortable, but they usually pass within a day or so. 

Sleep problems: While drinking may cause people to feel fatigued, alcohol is associated with fragmented and disturbed sleep. As a result, it’s common to experience a sense of grogginess, exhaustion, or general lethargy the next day.

Dehydration: Alcohol coincides with a loss of fluids, particularly as heavy drinking tends to make people urinate more frequently. Likewise, it hinders vasopressin release, which can cause the kidneys to retain fluid. This dehydration effect explains why dry mouth, thirst, hunger, and hangover headaches are so common.

Inflammation: Alcohol increases inflammation, and this process may lead to the flu-like symptoms people experience when hungover. 

Congeners: Congeners refer to the minor compounds in alcohol beyond pure ethanol. Although ethanol is the main contributor to hangover symptoms, congeners can be mildly toxic. Congeners are more common in distilled drinks like gin and whiskey. 

Gastrointestinal distress: Alcohol impacts the stomach’s lining and promotes acid production. Therefore, people may struggle with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramping.

Low blood sugar: The body’s blood sugar typically drops as it attempts to excrete alcohol. This reaction can heighten feelings of lightheadedness, weakness, and hunger. 

Withdrawal: People who struggle with alcohol abuse will often experience withdrawal symptoms within just a few hours after their last drink. Within 24-72 hours, the individual is at a heightened risk for hallucinations, seizures, and delirium tremens. 

Shortness of breath: Alcohol consumption directly impacts the heart, and it can hinder necessary organs from getting proper blood flow. Although it’s rare, atrial fibrillation can happen with a shortness of breath hangover or with symptoms related to weakness or heart palpitations. 

Depression and anxiety: Alcohol can impair one’s judgment and lower inhibitions (while heightening feelings of impulsivity). Because of this process, people may experience regret, shame, or guilt the next day. These feelings can exacerbate current mental health problems.

Are Hangovers Bad?

Hangovers happen after someone drinks too much alcohol. The body undoubtedly needs time to process the effects of alcohol. But when too much is in the system, the body essentially goes into overdrive in an attempt to recover. 

Hangovers look different for everyone. The severity of the hangover can fluctuate based on:

  • Combining alcohol with other drugs like caffeine, nicotine, or illicit substances
  • Drinking on an empty stomach
  • Failing to sleep after drinking
  • Having a history (or family history) of alcohol abuse
  • Binge drinking
  • Not drinking enough water in the hours or days before drinking
  • Drinking too much alcohol too quickly
  • One’s age and gender

Most hangovers go away on their own. However, they can persist for several hours or days based on how much someone drank. 

The occasional hangover may not be problematic, especially if someone only drinks occasionally. With that in mind, a frequent hangover pattern is associated with more serious problems that can escalate quickly.

In severe cases, heavy drinking can cause: 

  • Excessive vomiting
  • Delayed or rapid breathing
  • Hypothermia
  • Losing consciousness
  • Strokes 
  • Comas
  • Seizures
  • Alcohol poisoning 

If you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms, seek immediate help by calling 911. Unfortunately, alcohol-related deaths are prevalent, and even one night of heavy drinking can result in devastating consequences. 

Final Thoughts 

Hangovers are just one symptom associated with alcohol abuse. If you keep drinking despite the toll alcohol takes on your body, it’s important to consider seeking treatment. 

When left untreated, these symptoms often worsen over time. Contact us at (866) 578-7471 to get the help you need. 

  1. This process helps in getting rid of the addiction of the people. addiction is a very bad addiction. Thanks for sharing this blog.

  2. A very helpful information is this. It’s necessary for someone to understand effects of alcohol in human body. Thank you for this information.

  3. Well, whatever happens, alcohol is harmful for us. This is not right for us in any way. Thanks for sharing this blog.

  4. It’s good to understand alcohol before consuming it. This of course will help one to know how to manage it.

  5. It causes different kind of symptoms to the body because the higher your intake the more the effect. Great havoc.

  6. The symptoms stated in this article is enough for me not to take alcohol. The pain from hangover of alcohol can be quite painful.

  7. Hopefully this would be an eye opener for alcohol addicts. It honestly does less good to the body as it’s all an empty calorie. Being healthy is golden.

  8. Alcohol consumption is something that many have developed the habit. Being legal, it makes up of the largest numbers of drug abuse.

  9. I knew what hangover was after I saw someone vomiting after drinking alcohol. Hangover is shameful. Thank you Detox to rehab for sharing this.

  10. I think with the issues that come with hang-over especially the drowsiness the next day, people need to stop taking too much of drinks. Do we attribute such to lack of contentment.

  11. The intake determines the kind of hang over people have all manners of symptom occurs. Be watchful of what we take.

  12. Thanks for sharing how alcohol affects the body after an hangover it was very informative and helpful. Anyone addicted should seek for help. Detox to rehab thank you for sharing this amazing information.

  13. I have experienced a hangover before and it wasn’t funny. I couldn’t just sleep throughout the time. my head was heavy and I was vomiting. it isn’t a good experience so I take my drinks in moderation now

  14. I agree. I am not a heavy drinker just an ocassional one and even I experienced this. Now it is as if I am looking from the outside with this. I love the scientific facts here.

  15. For alcohol takers, it is better to them to take alcohol occasionally to avoid hangovers. The symptoms above are dangerous for alcohol users.

  16. Those into the drinking of alcohol should try and go for their check up and treatment as this symptom is not respecter of anyone. This information is strictly educative.

  17. Hangovers are just one symptom associated with alcohol abuse. Let run away from the drinking of alcohol. Let also help our love ones that are into such addicts or may be we contact the rehabilitation center very near to us for help.

  18. Addiction is bad. It affects every part of ones life. This information is timely, well detailed and comprehensive.

  19. Excessive intake of alcohol is very injurious to people’s health. However, its adverse effects outweigh its perceived benefits. Detox is hereby commended for the useful piece of information.

  20. Indeed, the hangover effects of alcohol are detrimental to people’s health. In view of this, people should desist from excessive consumption of alcohol to avoid ill health.

  21. Thank you Detax to rehab for sharing these type of stories with all of us.These stories are really very much inspirational for many people who are addicted with something and try to recover from that.

  22. Hangover caused by addiction is destructive in accordance with the above information. Every addicted individual should be aware of these effects.

  23. Alcohol hangover can lead you doing many things you can’t do when you are fine..so please avoid drinking it.

  24. Drinking excessively is dangerous on its own, what more a hangover that comes after it that is affected by several other factors aside from the large amount of consumed alcohol. If it really can’t be helped, people should exercise moderate drinking as much as they can. If it gets to a point that it starts to affect one’s relationships and daily life, it’s best to seek professional help immediately.

  25. This a very educative and informative piece of article, this have enlighten me more, I have idea about what hangover is which I’m going to share with the world.

  26. Hangovers are definitely unpleasant and can take a huge toll if they happen excessively. Thanks for the informative read.

  27. Alcohol hangover isn’t a good thing. The shame it brings is so unbearable. I hope people can learn from this

  28. I believe beyond the hangover from alcohol intake…it has diverse effect on the body… Let’s take it responsibily if you must drink.

  29. With all the side effect of drinking too much, I feel the best thing to do is to avoid alcohol totally, and if one can’t then drink responsibly.

  30. Some people who drink a lot know or have the side effects of the alcohol thereafter, but they still continue to drink to stupor because they can’t help themselves. Such people needs help.

  31. The shame it brings is so unbearable. I hope people can learn from this. This is a very educative and informative piece of article, this has enlightened me more, I have an idea about what hangover in which I’m going to share with the world. Thanks for sharing this blog.

  32. Alcohol hangover is destructive. Going by the aforementioned effects, it must be avoided at all cost. Thanks to Detox To Rehab.

  33. Indeed, hangover is bad but addiction which is the primary cause is the worst. Thank you so much for this revelation.

  34. Touch of everything is bad, I never knew hand over is bad to the body.only thought its a way the body deals with the excess alcohol. Thanks for this knowledge

  35. Seizures are very common now adays in the aged. Those that means is part of the consequences of their earlier days alcohol consumption?

  36. Nice to know there are treatments for handover, I only drink alot of water and sleep after which I am back. I know better now, I won’t heavily drink again

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