Knowing the real causes of hangovers can help you avoid ever getting hungover again.
Hangovers are a combination of factors which contribute to you feeling unwell, unpleasant and maybe sick the day after relatively heavy alcohol consumption.
What’s the cause of this evil condition?
The first thing to understand is that the aftershock of drinking too much has as multiple causes, as it does symptoms.
Typically, you’ll have a pounding hangover headache, feel nauseous, your stomach may hurt, you may have diarrhoea and be vomiting.
Also, your mouth feels dry and dirty and you’re severely dehydrated. You feel terrible and incapable of doing anything.
But being hungover is not caused by a one thing, but by many all together.
That’s why there’s no hangover cure that’s 100% effective for every level of hangover.
Put simply, the causes of hangovers and the reason you feel awful are the following:
1. Metabolites & Toxins
The side effects of your liver’s breakdown and the processing of alcohol result in the presence a number of toxins, notably one called acetaldahyde.
These toxins are easily dealt with by your liver in smaller quantities.
However when more alcohol is consumed, more acetaldehyde is produced, which means there is an excess of it in your body which your liver has not been able to deal with.
The toxin is what is considered to be the main contributor to the general ‘bad’ feeling around your body when you’re hungover. You need to ‘clean up’ excess alcetaldehyde in order to counter this.
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it accelerates the process which expels liquid from your body and thus dehydrates you by making you urinate regularly all night.
If the liquid is not replaced, your brain shrinks, causing it to hurt your head. Your brain needs fluid too, and when its fluid is taken away by your body to help rid you of the toxins, it hurts!
Read more about diuretics and dehydration.
Dehydration on its own does not cause a hangover, although it may cause a headache.
Dehydration is not the sole cause of a hangover either, by any means, but when combined with the presence of congeners and acetaldehyde, it will certainly intensify that nasty head you have!
3. Depletion of vitamins and minerals
When you visit the toilets 37 times in one evening, along with the water excretion many minerals and vitamins previously extracted by your body that are required to keep feeling human and fit are expelled from your body.
A reduced level of vitamins and certain minerals, also known as electrolytes, exacerbates your already throbbing head pains, especially on top of the presence of dehydration and the acetaldehyde.
You may also feel weak and have a ‘hangover cold’: a slight blocked nose, as a result of this.
Many people who have partied and drunk alcohol for days in a row report they catch a cold or an illness shortly thereafter due to the reduced performance of their immune systems and lack of quality sleep.
Congeners are impurities that can be found at higher levels in drinks such as tequila, rum and low quality wine and beer.
I’d recommend never drinking any drink you know to have congeners in future.
Avoiding hangovers should be a priority and there are plenty of other drinks which are almost entirely free of impurities out there.
See which drinks are free from congeners. The above are the main hangover causes. But there are a couple of others which are less well known.
It helps to know about these.
5. Blood Sugar Level
Your body relies on glucose for its energy. Your brain needs glucose too. Low levels of glucose in your body may result in you feeling weak and slightly lacking in coordination.
Tried playing snooker or pool whilst hungover? Then you’ll know what this means.
The brain relies even more on glucose, so don’t be surprised when your memory, concentration and motor skills are affected after a night out. You may feel tired too as a result.
The reason for having a low glucose level in your blood is believed to be due to the fact that the acetaldehyde blocks it from circulating properly and so prevents it from getting to the key parts of your body and brain.
6. Sleep – or lack of it
You need sleep, both your body and brain need sleep. Low quality sleep is one of the causes of hangovers, or at least intensifies any hangover you get.
Getting drunk disrupts your sleep pattern and prevents you from sleeping soundly and deeply for at least part of the night.
You may think you’ve slept 8 hours whereas in fact it may well be the equivalent to sleeping just five or six hours.
The first 3 hours were possibly not real sleep, but a kind of unconscious, alcohol-induced state.
The combination of your tiredness together with all the other factors combines to contribute to your worse than average physical condition.
It’s pretty clear that the causes of hangover are are not simple, and so the remedy for hangovers for is not simple either.
The main culprit is the toxin acetaldehyde. Combined with the famous dehyration, the lack of vitamins & minerals, congeners, low glucose levels and tiredness, it shouldn’t be surprising some of us feel like death warmed up the next day.
Knowing why it happens is one thing, now I advise you to read about cures and remedies for hangovers to get hangover relief.
Or you can also read my great tips and tricks to prevent hangovers.