Everybody knows that hangovers are the unwelcome result of overconsumption of alcohol, but how much do we really know about them. Exactly what causes a hangover? Can you get rid of them, or at least make them go away faster? Are hangovers curable?
Why do we get Hangovers?
Believe it or not, even scientists don’t know a lot about what causes a hangover, but it appears that there are a number of factors at play. (By the way, don’t expect a lot of money to be spent on finding a cure when prevention is so obvious).
Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic that causes fluid loss via urination. Also, people who are busy drinking alcohol aren’t as likely to drink enough water, thus contributing even more to dehydration. Dehydration contributes to hangover headaches and dizziness because water-starved organs actually “borrow” water from the brain.
Acetaldehyde: A chemical compound known as acetaldehyde is a byproduct of how our bodies process alcohol. It is believed to be 30 times as toxic as alcohol. Normally, the body has ways of processing acetaldehyde, but heavy drinking causes toxins to build up faster than the body can handle them. The result? Nausea, vomiting and sweating.
Congenors: What you drink may affect the severity of the hangover. Some alcoholic beverages contain congeners, impurities that are created in the fermentation process, or added later to enhance flavor. High-congenor beverages like tequila, whisky, bourbon and brandy are more likely to produce killer hangovers than low-congenor, light-colored drinks like white wine, rum, vodka or gin.
Acid indigestion: Alcohol triggers the stomach to produce more acid, which irritates the stomach lining and causes nausea and vomiting. Drinking on an empty stomach can make the problem much worse.
Blood sugar: Alcohol can cause blood sugar levels to drop, which can lead to weakness, shakiness and fatigue.
Other factors: If you get a monster hangover while your friend drinks twice and feels great the next morning, genetics may be at play. Gender is also a factor; women are more prone to hangovers than men. People who smoke cigarettes tend to accumulate high levels of acetaldehyde.