Book health & wellness appointments instantly


Information And Treatment

A hangover is the common name for the physical side effects from alcohol consumption. Believe it or not, you don’t even need to drink a lot of alcohol to suffer a hangover. Impurities, mainly chemicals called congeners, can give you a hangover after a single drink. Darker alcohols, like rum and bourbon, tend to have more congeners, and some liquors intentionally add them for flavor. The main culprit behind hangovers, however, is a chemical called acetaldehyde, one of the byproducts of alcohol digestion. The acetaldehyde is largely responsible for your throbbing head and sound and light sensitivity, as it affects the brain. Red wine contains a chemical called tyramine, which can also intensify hangovers.

Alcohol also causes severe dehydration, which causes low blood sugar and nausea. This happens because alcohol blocks the hormone vasopressin, which allows the body to absorb water. Water instead goes straight to the kidneys, causing frequent urination and the depletion of potassium. The body therefore becomes extremely dehydrated. Dehydration causes the body to try to extract water from its membranes, including those in the brain, which causes headaches.

Other factors can make a hangover worse besides how much alcohol and congeners you imbibe. Lack of sleep, dehydration, drinking on an empty stomach and physical activity while drinking can all worsen hangover symptoms.