Hangover: The Party’s Over

Was it Worth it?

Regardless of who you are, if you have ever drank too much, you know how terrible a hangover can be. The overwhelming thirst, a spinning room, unimaginable fatigue and crippling nausea; they are the ingredients of a well-earned hangover.

A hangover is nature’s way of telling you that you need to find a better hobby. Who in their right mind would pay good money to feel this bad? Easy – your Bon Jovi loving, fist pumping self, right before last call, that’s who.

The amount of factors that lead to a hangover are many, but the most recognized are the drink of choice, dehydration and the rate of alcohol consumption. Every alcoholic beverage has congeners, a harmful by-product of alcohol formed during the fermentation process. Red wine and dark liquors like whiskey and brandy contain a higher concentration of congeners than light or clear liquors, like vodka, which is why dark drinks cause worse hangovers than their clear counterparts. 

Why Do We Get Hangovers?

Secondly, alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it promotes the production of urine. As we drink alcohol, we expel water through the urine, leading to dehydration. Your body will begin to pull water from any viable source, including the brain, causing it to shrink and pull on the membranes attaching it to the skull. This tugging causes pain, resulting in a headache.

Pace Yourself

The consumption rate of alcohol plays, quite possibly, the biggest role in creating a hangover. The liver is responsible for processing the alcohol and can only do it at a rate of one drink per hour. If you drink at a rate faster than your liver can metabolize the alcohol, your body will become saturated. Your liver breaks down the alcohol into its simplest form, acetaldehyde, much like deconstructing a house into single bricks and planks of wood. 

green and brown glass bottles

Is a Hangover Worse for a Man or Woman?

Once it has been broken down, acetaldehyde becomes toxic to our body. Our liver quickly breaks that down and passes it out of the body. It does this with two enzymes called acetaldehyde hydrogenase and glutathione. The only problem is that the liver can only produce a small amount of these enzymes at a time, so the excess acetaldehyde wreaks havoc on our system until it can be metabolized. Unfortunately, women genetically have less of these enzymes than men, so the effects of the hangover are much worse for them. 

Can I Prevent a Hangover?

There are not many clinically proven methods to cure a hangover, aside from time, but the best way to combat one is by planning ahead. Choose your drinks wisely, drink water between each round and drink at a responsible rate. Cheers. 

This article was submitted by: Dr. Justin W. Willis – A chiropractic physician who holds a certificate in electrodiagnostic studies. He is a former licensed massage therapist, health coach and rehabilitative fitness specialist who has committed to the lifelong learning of how to treat the body in a natural approach, and takes passion in educating those around him on how to live a healthy and pain-free lifestyle. 

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