Why do we get hangovers?

by Phil Lowe
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For thousands of years, people have wondered why do good and bad things happen to people. Some people feel that the world has a balance built in it and that if things are going too well it is only a matter of time before something bad will happen. Others argue that this is all about perception and if you are looking for good and bad things in life you will easily find them every time. There is one place in life that this is certainly true, drinking alcohol. When you drink alcohol you usually feel great, but the greater you feel while drinking, the worse the hangover is the next day! So why do we get hangovers? Is the world’s best form of payback or is there a better explanation?

Of course, there is an easy answer to why hangovers occur. In short, it is because alcohol is a low form of poison. If you poison your body there may be some positive side effects but there will clearly be negative results as well. Let’s take a look at each common effect of a hangover and see what is causing it.

If you have ever woken up with a hangover you will know that terrible feeling of not wanting to leave your bed but desperately wanting something to drink. If all you have is water it will suffice but when you are in a deep hangover you need some fizzy drink to try and remedy you back to life. Alcohol actually suppresses a hormone called vasopressin in your body. This little hormone tells your body when to hold onto fluids and without it, your body simply stops trying. The more alcohol you drink, the less vasopressin your body and the more dehydrated you will feel the next day.

This has a knock-on effect on the rest of your body as well. It will cause your mouth to be incredibly dry. What most people don’t realize is that this can result in serious dental issues. If you look at the teeth of people who drink a lot you may notice they have some problems. Granted they may be drunk a lot of the time and skip the required brushing but even if they don’t the dehydration they feel will result in a lack of saliva in the mouth. This saliva plays an important role in keeping the mouth healthy. Without it, your teeth will start to decay.

Dehydration can also cause serious headaches and while most people will put down their hangover headache to the lack of hydration there are other causes too. The alcohol in your body causes the blood vessels to swell which also leads to headaches. This means that even if you manage to rehydrate you may have to suffer a horrible headache for a little while longer.

One of the most common aspects of a hangover is that you feel incredibly tired. We often tell ourselves that this is the price we pay for staying out until 3 am, never again! Of course, a 3 am bedtime will not help you feel alert but there may be more going on here too. Drinking alcohol means that you will have a very poor quality of sleep. People often report blacking out when they drink too much alcohol but the reality is that you don’t get a good rest at all. Even if you went to bed early, you would still feel very tired the next day.

It is clear that alcohol causes a lot of terrible things to happen in the body, if only it wasn’t so much fun! The slogan drink in moderation really does apply when it comes to alcohol. If you find you are drinking too much and the hangovers are occurring too often, talk to someone that may be able to help. Friends, families, and even professionals are always on hand to listen.

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