“..If the data is any indication, at least 75 percent of you will recognize this feeling: -
- a throbbing headache, exhaustion, queasiness and even muscle fatigue following a night of overindulging.
But what is it about drinking alcohol that causes such discomfort?
The cause is a combination of factors, but primarily one: dehydration.
“Alcohol is a diuretic, so you end up losing water.
And the dehydration effect is probably the most severe contributor to hangover,” says Dr. Gary Murray, the program director for the Division of Metabolism and Health Effects of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
The more you drink and the higher the concentration of alcohol in the drinks you choose – the more dehydrated you’re going to be.
According to an overview of the research that’s because alcohol suppresses the release of the hormone vasopressin – which normally repurposes water released by the kidneys back into the body.
With the absence of vasopressin, that water is marked for the bladder and eliminated.
Alcohol also causes inflammation of the stomach lining, which can cause diarrhea – another dehydrating condition.
In the morning, that translates to classic dehydration symptoms: a headache as the body borrows water from the brain – causing temporary tissue shrinkage; thirst; dry mouth; nausea; and even dizziness.
Though dehydration is a major factor – it’s not the only one.
Everyone has a unique physiological response to alcohol in terms of how it’s broken down and eliminated by the body.
And the way you metabolize alcohol can certainly have an effect on the onset, severity and duration of a hangover.
Alcohol is metabolized in two stages: one group of enzymes break down ethanol – the alcohol that you ingest – into acetaldehyde.
Acetaldehyde is a toxic, carcinogenic substance – but soon after a second class of enzymes metabolizes the acetaldehyde into harmless acetate – which is basically vinegar.
The problem is that for some people the second metabolic process can be slower and less effective than in others.
That means a build-up of acetaldehyde toxicity -
- which includes several hangover-like symptoms like rapid pulse, sweating, skin flushing, nausea and vomiting…”
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