Hangover is defined as a cluster of undesirable symptoms that occur upon waking after excessive amount of alcohol the night before. Apart from increased irritability that could lead to conflict, a hangover often leads to poor performance at school or work. Every person’s alcohol limit will vary but the general rule is that the more alcohol a person drinks, especially those with high alcohol content, the more likely a person will develop a hangover. The severity of the hangover will also vary. Furthermore, not all individuals who drink alcohol will develop a hangover. Although most hangovers can disappear by themselves, it can sometimes lead to dehydration, a serious condition if not treated.
How Drinking Alcohol Leads to a Hangover
Drinking too much alcohol may possibly lead to a hangover. But how does drinking alcohol actually lead to a hangover? The following are the steps that lead to hangover:
- Alcohol is directly absorbed in the stomach and thus goes to the bloodstream faster.
- Because alcohol is a diuretic (substance that promotes urine production), it blocks the hormone vasopressin (also called the antidiuretic hormone)
- Without vasopressin, water is sent directly to the urinary bladder instead of kidney
- There is increased urination
- The morning after, the body sends signal to the brain to replenish its water supply
- The organs of the body get the water from the brain leading to its shrinking and the pulling on the membranes that connect the brain to the skull leading to a headache
- Alcohol also contains ingredients that may lead to hangovers, such as congeners
Signs and Symptoms of a Hangover
An individual usually has poor performance in work and school and is usually irritable. They may have some or all of the signs and symptoms of a hangover. The following are the characteristics of a hangover:
- Headaches or migraines
- Nausea that may present with or without vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Feeling lightheaded
- Feeling groggy
- Weakness and fatigue
- Muscle ache
- Decrease appetite
- Increased sensitivity to sounds
- Memory problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Mood disturbances
- In some cases, seizures
First Aid Treatment for Hangover
A hangover will usually disappear on its own, but there are ways to help alleviate the signs and symptoms. Learn how to ease the symptoms of a hangover by enrolling in First Aid Courses. Consider:
- Take plenty of rest. For some, extra hours of resting and sleeping can help the hangover disappear.
- Drink plenty of water, fruit juices or sports drinks to avoid dehydrations. Avoid diuretics.
- Begin by eating bland foods that will help increase blood glucose levels and ease the stomach. Foods that contain fructose may aid in burning the alcohol at a faster pace.
- In cases of headaches, take over-the-counter pain medications, such as paracetamol. Avoid ibuprofen as it may irritate the stomach. Be cautions also when taking aspirin.
- A common myth is that drinking more alcohol will treat a hangover. Do not drink alcohol.
Hangover is defined as a cluster of undesirable symptoms that occur upon waking after excessive amount of alcohol the night before leading to poor performance.