Overindulging in alcoholic beverages can have unpleasant consequences that include a hangover. Often, the symptoms appear many hours after you stop drinking as the alcohol content in your blood drops. This often takes place after a night out. The common symptoms of a hangover include headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, fatigue, and more. These symptoms can last up to two days. According to medical professionals, these symptoms are caused by many other factors such as dehydration and how the body processes alcohol. The best way to get over a hangover is IV therapy.
Alcohol is processed in the liver in two ways. Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), a liver cell enzyme, converts alcohol into a toxic substance known as acetaldehyde. This substance is converted to acetate by another enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). In normal conditions, the conversion of acetaldehyde to acetate is quick. Also, the body gets rid of this substance quickly. However, if you consume lots of alcohol beverages, your liver is unlikely to convert the acetaldehyde as quickly as usual. In fact, the substance may build up enough to contribute to the symptoms of hangover like sweating, vomiting, and nausea.
How Alcohol Directly Affects the Body
The body responds to alcohol in the form of:
- Headaches. A headache can be triggered as the brain’s blood vessels are dilated by alcohol. Also, dehydration contributes to the kind of headaches people with a hangover experience.
- Low blood sugar. When you consume alcohol, your body will not be able to maintain its usual tight control on the level of blood sugar. As a result, the body will have a low blood sugar concentration. A low blood sugar level will lead to fatigue and weakness.
- Dehydration. As a diuretic, alcohol stimulates the body to increase the production of urine, depleting the body of fluid. If you drink plenty of alcohol, you can have dehydration of which symptoms can include dizziness, thirst, dry mouth, and headaches.
Alcohol and Inflammation
According to a number of studies, consuming too much alcohol beverages can trigger the release of cytokines. An increased level of cytokines is associated with impaired concentration and memory as well as symptoms like fatigue, headache, and nausea.
The immune system release cytokines as part of the inflammatory response comparable to when the body is experiencing an infection. Such response may be associated with the microbes present in the gut. It is possible for alcohol to increase the numbers of pro-inflammatory bacteria and stimulate the microbes in order to release toxins.
Avoiding a Hangover
Limiting the amount of alcohol you consume is the best way to avoid a hangover. The following tips can also help:
- Avoid consuming alcohol on an empty stomach. Ensure you have eaten something before you start indulging in your favorite alcoholic beverage.
- Take it slow. Don’t drink in rounds so you can consume alcohol at your own pace. Try to have a drink every hour and consume water between drinks.
- Reduce your intake of drinks with high concentrations of congeners. This is because these compounds cause more serious hangovers. Although congeners are found in the majority of alcoholic beverages, they have varying concentration levels. Beverages such as whiskey, red wine, brandy, and others contain a high concentration of these compounds.