Hangover symptoms don’t just make you feel bad the morning after. They also show how drinking changes the human body, altering chemicals and otherwise ordinary functions.
Many people are social drinkers and think nothing of having a few glasses of wine or a few beers. Then you have others who drink heavily or attend regular parties, and they understand how hangover symptoms make them feel. The interesting thing about these symptoms is not their appearance. Rather, what’s important is how they actually change your body.
There’s a wide range of hangover symptoms including headaches, fatigue, nausea, and sensitivity to light, to name a few. There is also an overwhelming feeling of regret which stems from the knowledge that you may have gone a little too far with your drinking escapades. Would you like to know why your body is acting this way? Read ahead and learn.
If you’re familiar with any forms of withdrawal symptoms then you might be able to understand what’s happening the night after a drunken party. While drinking, your body is filled with a euphoric sensation, with dopamine levels soaring. The next morning, the first thing your body realizes is that the sensation is gone. This is why it goes into withdrawals immediately upon waking.
The reason for headaches with hangover symptoms revolves around something called “vasodilatation and vasoconstriction”. Expansion of the blood vessels caused by alcohol intoxication is called vasodilation. After the alcohol has worn off, the blood vessels restrict back to their original size in the vasoconstriction process. There is always pain when blood vessels dilate or constrict, hence the headaches.
Alcohol also affects the respiratory system and the quality of your breathing. There have long been links between breathing problems and snoring, and alcohol relaxes the body and affects your ability to breath correctly while we sleep.
The reason you feel nauseous is because of the release of the chemical Acetaldehyde which is actually a toxic chemical. Acetaldehyde is a metabolite which is even more toxic than alcohol itself. It can make you feel dizzy and also cause headaches.
Believe it or not, you can lose the ability to sleep off your hangover. Now, most people are able to pass out and sleep some of the bad feelings away, but others, they cannot seem to get any rest at all. This is because alcohol actually disrupts your sleep patterns and even causes anxiety and increased heart rate after the “good” feelings have worn off.
Sometimes, although rare, hangover symptoms can include a stuffy nose and signs of a common cold or allergy. Sometimes, it seems, that certain people have an alcohol intolerance or allergy. So, not only can you wake up with a headache and all other sorts of symptoms, but you may also have to call in sick from work.
Dehydration and urination
Have you ever wondered why alcohol dehydrates your body? Well, here’s the simplest explanation. Alcohol has a hormone which regulates the production of urine. Instead of your urine secreting a normal amount of sodium, your body tends to retain a higher level of sodium and electrolytes. Sodium causes inflammation and dehydration. When drinking, alcohol also can trick the body into thinking it needs to urinate more and this eliminates way too much fluid from the body.
Diahrea and bloating
Alcohol also causes diarrhea and bloating. This is primarily caused by the buildup of lactic acid in the body. It also stimulates the pancreas which secrets pancreatic enzymes. Then, add the fact that alcohol causes gastritis and the inflammation of the stomach lining and that would explain almost all of the digestive symptoms of the hangover. Oh, let’s not forget the buildup of bad bacteria in the gut as well. You will be taking many trips to the bathroom, one way or the other.
Sensitivity to light and sound
The aversion to bright lights primarily comes from the blockage of neurotransmitters caused by high levels of alcohol consumption. This can also cause problems with sensitivity to sound as well. This is the reason why most people with hangovers require a quiet and dark place to recover.
Hangover symptoms can also include feeling “down in the dumps”. This is caused by an endorphin crash as alcoholic effects are leaving the body. You will feel emotionally vulnerable and set off by random triggers.
A look at hangover symptom cures
Unfortunately, there isn’t one “cure-all” hangover cure. That’s because there is too much going on in the body to target everything at once. The best option is to work on alleviating the individual symptoms of the hangover.
Take a pain reliever, drink water, and maybe take a few antacids for the stomach issues. Most importantly of all, get some rest. If you can sleep, then sleep. If not, then make yourself as comfortable as possible. Next time you decide to have a few drinks, try to limit your alcohol intake and never mix different forms of alcoholic beverages. Personally, I have found this to be the worst culprits of the hangover.
Good luck with your recovery!
By Sherrie H.