So you went hard at it on the cocktails last night, and now you’re regretting it, am I right?
It seems that just five minutes ago, a shower and coffee could cure even the worst of hangovers! But now you’re lying on the couch wondering if you’ll move again, aren’t you?
Believe me, we’ve all experienced it. Chances are, even the word cocktails can make you go to the bathroom. But why do hangovers seem to have an expiration date of 24-48 hours? What happened to me just cutting it off and walking out the door? Well, my friend … If you’re wondering where everything went wrong, read on! I’m going to talk about why these types of hangovers occur and how to fight them.
What is a hangover?
Although many of us can easily identify a (terrible) hangover, from a medical point of view, understanding is limited.
In general, a hangover is considered a form of withdrawal and is likely to be a short term thing. While some hangovers feel they can last forever, they won’t – I promise you!
Simply put, a hangover involves your liver working double time to process the previous night’s alcohol consumption. First, your liver needs to break down alcohol into acetaldehyde, which is toxic to your body. The acetaldehyde then decomposes to acetate, which is non-toxic.
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After consuming a few too many cocktails, your body may be overloaded, which means that acetaldehyde may not convert to acetate as quickly. This is usually where the hangover enters.
What does alcohol do to our bodies?
Whilst the occasional drink here or there isn’t likely to cause any lasting damage, binge drinking can affect your overall health in a serious way over time. We all react to alcohol different, below are some feeling you might experience after drinking:
- Reduced immunity – research has shown that drinking lots of alcohol may reduce your body’s natural immunity, making it harder for your body to fight off infections and viruses.
- Muscle pain – consuming alcohol could lead to weakness and muscle cramps.
- Metabolism problems – alcohol can be damaging to the tissues in your digestive tract which can prevent your intestines from digesting food properly. In turn, this means that your body won’t be absorbing all the vitamins and nutrients from the food you eat.
- Neurological function – alcohol can make the communication between your body and brain more difficult. This is how things like speaking and coordination become more tricky.
How much alcohol causes a hangover?
Unfortunately, there is no magic number (sorry!). And how much a person drinks before experiencing a hangover will depend on their own body and metabolism.
In some of us, the liver can detoxify and remove alcohol from the body faster. While others may have reduced alcohol metabolism (usually due to genetic factors) and may find that half a glass of wine or beer is enough for a hangover.
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Women usually have lower levels of liver enzymes to remove toxins from the body than men, so women have a hangover more often (sorry ladies!). To complicate matters, weight and height can also affect how you wash alcohol out of your body.
How long should a hangover last?
Typically, a hangover ends around 12 hours after you’ve stopped drinking. However, research shows that hangovers can last for 14-23 hours, with some dragging out over a whopping 72 hours.
Why can some hangovers seem to last forever?
When your head is pounding and your hangover feels like it’s never going to end… Here’s why it could be hanging around a little longer than you hoped:
- You didn’t drink enough water – Alcohol can dehydrate you quicker than you think, making you feel groggy the next day. It can also slow down how quickly your body detoxes the alcohol out of your system.
- You didn’t get enough sleep – After a night of drinking, our sleep is typically more disturbed than usual. So while you may have passed out after a few too many, the likelihood of deep, peaceful sleep is quite unlikely.
- You were drinking dark booze -Introducing… congeners, these are the flavoring agents or by-products of fermentation, and they’re linked to hangovers. Stay clear of these if you don’t want a hangover.
- You’re getting old…er… – Compared to being a 20 something, the body’s ability to detox starts to slow down as we get older. As we age, our cells are also aging and are not able to process toxins in the same way as when we were 21, for example.
- You have a sensitivity or intolerance – Many of us have sensitivities we don’t know about, especially when it comes to gluten – with beer being made with barley and hops.
- You drank on an empty stomach – Alcohol can irritate the lining of your stomach, making any hangover nausea, pain, or vomiting worse. Not having food in your stomach before drinking can make all of this feel worse. Eat something filling and carb-filled before drinking will line the stomach.
- You’re on your period – During your period, your body is already going through a lot! Adding the fact you’re dehydrated into the mix can lead to a nasty hangover you’d rather not have.
- You’re on medication – since your liver is also responsible for breaking down medications, if you’re on medication, you’ll be forcing those two organs to work even harder than they need to, this may cause them to work slower.
How to cure a hangover
If you’re sprawled out on your couch whilst you read this, don’t worry, I’m about to share my top tips for preventing (although it may be too late now, sorry!) and curing a hangover.
Whilst there isn’t much research into actually ‘treating’ and ‘curing’ a hangover, a small amount of research has shown that people who took an L-cysteine supplement after three hours of drinking state they experienced lower levels of nausea, headaches, and anxiety the following day compared to those who took a placebo. However, there’s still room for plenty of further studies.
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Until someone out there comes up with the ultimate hangover cure from a medical perspective, here are my top tips to help get rid of that awful morning after feeling:
- Make sure you have a hearty breakfast! This helps to replace any lost vitamins and minerals, as well as restore your blood sugar levels and reduce hangover symptoms.
- Get a good night’s rest
- There’s no such thing as too much water, keep yourself hydrated and drink water!
Now, remember for the future, in order to help avoid that dreaded hangover, eat before drinking, drink water throughout and don’t go crazy, ladies!
Did you know that Zotrim can help support your healthy living goals? Once your hangover has passed, it’s time to get back on track, ladies! Our 100% natural formula works to boost your metabolism, boost the body’s fat-burning abilities and curb cravings!