Those who drink too much may find themselves suffering hangover symptoms the next day. While any amount of alcohol can cause a hangover, the severity often depends on an individual’s body composition and ability to process alcohol. Hangover symptoms include nausea, vomiting, thirst, and a variety of other negative side effects related to alcohol consumption.
Men and women process alcohol at different rates. Women tend to experience hangover symptoms after consuming more than three to five drinks, while men may be able to consumer more than five drinks before experiencing a hangover. Other factors include the speed at which drinks are consumed and how much a person has had to eat before drinking.
While drinking, a person’s body reacts in several ways. Alcohol increases the production of stomach acid, increases urination, and leads to a fall in blood sugar. These processes result in decreased appetite, dehydration, and shakiness. Another reaction caused by alcohol consumption includes blood vessel expansion.
These reactions can result in some of the most common hangover symptoms. An increase in stomach acid can lead to nausea and vomiting. Excessive thirst is a result of the dehydration caused by alcohol consumption. The expansion of blood vessels can spur another common hangover symptom, headaches.
Symptoms beyond the typical hangover symptoms mentioned need medical treatment. Severe symptoms such as seizures, irregular breathing, and passing out indicate the possibility of alcohol poisoning. Other signs of alcohol poisoning include pale skin, confusion, and persistent vomiting. Any of these symptoms signal the need to call for emergency help, as they indicate a life-threatening emergency.
Aside from allowing time for the symptoms of a hangover to pass, those suffering from a hangover can take some steps to lessen or relieve the symptoms associated with a hangover. This includes sipping on water or fruit juice to ward off dehydration. Other options include having a bland snack, such as crackers, and taking an over-the-counter pain reliever to help relieve a headache.
Preventing a hangover from occurring in the first place is the best option. Eat a meal before heading out for the night, and snack frequently to help absorb the alcohol. Keep drinks to a maximum of one per hour and drink alcoholic beverages without heavy flavorings and coloring. Stick with the same type of drink all night and drink water throughout the evening.
The effects of a hangover can extend far beyond the physical symptoms. Hangovers can also interfere with work, memory, and the ability to make sound judgments. Those who routinely experience hangovers should consider not drinking and seek help from a qualified medical professional.