If you have ever drunk more alcohol than you should, then you are no stranger to the symptoms of a hangover. The throbbing head, dry throat, queasy stomach and inability to get out of bed will all be familiar feelings. These conditions cost countries billions of dollars a year in absenteeism.
Alcohol is a diuretic, and drinking too much causes the body to dehydrate. It also causes the drinker to urinate more, losing more fluids from the body. It is the dehydration of the brain that causes the intense headaches of a hangover. The brain shrinks slightly when dehydrated and moves away from the skull.
Like any drug, alcohol introduces toxins or poisons into the body. In order to cope with these toxins, the body produces enzymes to combat them and remove them from the body. It is the amount of toxins one ingests that are the biggest contributors to the severity of the symptoms.
Pure alcohol or ethanol is supposedly toxin-free. Experts say that toxins present in the additives of drinks do the harm. There are many poisons and chemicals in alcoholic drinks that produce these toxins. Wine has a very large amount of additives, while pure vodka has relatively little. Many people attest that drinking pure vodka will not produce a hangover, while drinking wines causes some of the worst symptoms.
Many people find it difficult to obtain a good night’s sleep after a good night’s drinking. The amount of alcohol consumed prevents the brain from performing its normal sleep tasks. In effect, the brain has been drugged by the alcohol. The brain may be unable to reach the rapid eye movement (REM) cycle of sleep. This is the main cycle of sleep, in which the body achieves dreams and maximum quality rest.
Mixing your drinks is also a quick way to inebriation and a hangover. If you mix drinks, then you are mixing together the different poisons within the drinks. The liver has to work extra hard to get rid of these toxins by flushing them out, which again causes more dehydration.
There are hundreds of cures for hangovers, often passed from person to person. Everyone has their own remedy. Prevention methods include eating large meals before drinking. This lines the stomach and slows down the alcohol entering the bloodstream. Drinking water before sleeping does, in some cases, stop dehydration from occurring and prevent headaches.