What are the Different Hangover Symptoms?

Nicole Long

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.

Headaches are one symptom of a hangover.
Headaches are one symptom of a hangover.

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.

Dizziness and nausea are symptoms of a hangover.
Dizziness and nausea are symptoms of a hangover.

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.

Sipping on water can ward of dehydrating when suffering with a hangover.
Sipping on water can ward of dehydrating when suffering with a hangover.

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.

Vomiting is a common symptom of having a hangover.
Vomiting is a common symptom of having a hangover.

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.

People who drink alcohol should imbibe in moderation and consume plenty of water to offset dehydration.
People who drink alcohol should imbibe in moderation and consume plenty of water to offset dehydration.

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.

It is not unusual to have a hangover after a night out drinking with friends.
It is not unusual to have a hangover after a night out drinking with friends.

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.

Psychological symptoms, such as depression and irritability, are also a part of having a hangover.
Psychological symptoms, such as depression and irritability, are also a part of having a hangover.

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.

Light snacking can help with a hangover.
Light snacking can help with a hangover.
Some people dealing with a hangover have stomach cramps.
Some people dealing with a hangover have stomach cramps.

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Discussion Comments

donasmrs

@serenesurface-- It happens to me too. I don't know if it's common but it's definitely possible. The reason is because alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Aside from slowing down breathing and heart rate, it also has a depressing effect on mood. It can cause you to feel depressed, anxious and uneasy. Some people are more sensitive to these effects than others and it also has to do with how much you drink. The more you drink, the more likely these symptoms will occur.

It's kind of weird that most people don't know that alcohol has this effect. In fact, some people drink to lighten their mood but it really doesn't do that.

serenesurface

Does anyone here feel anxious or depressed when they have a hangover? It happens to me but I haven't been able to figure out if these are common hangover symptoms or if I'm having a strange reaction to the alcohol.

ddljohn

It's true that people react differently to alcohol. I have a very low tolerance to alcohol. My friends can drink twice as much or more before getting hangover symptoms. If I drink very quickly, I don't sometimes realize that I've had too much until it's too late and the hangover symptoms have kicked in. The worst ones I've had have definitely been nausea and vomiting. Although dizziness and migraines aren't great either.

I have learned to drink moderately and to stop when I'm not sure if the next drink will tip me over the edge or not. It's just better to drink within limits. Less pain to deal with later.

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