Why you have a hangover this morning and what you can do about it!
Michael Haltman | January 1, 2014
Many New Year's Eve revelers are waking up this morning hungover from a night of overzealous celebration!
This article will give you an explanation not only for why it is that you're having symptoms that include 'headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, stomach problems, drowsiness, sweating, excessive thirst and cognitive fuzziness', but some ways to try and get over them.
And if you feel really bad maybe go back to sleep and read it a little later when you're feeling better and then remember it for New Year's Eve next year.
Your Complete Guide to the Science of Hangovers
Why Do Hangovers Happen?
Given that they’re such a widespread health phenomenon, it’s perhaps a bit surprising that scientists still don’t fully understand the causes of a hangover. (They do, however, have a scientific name for them: veisalgia.) It’s far from clear why, after all traces of alcohol have been fully expelled from your body, you can still experience a load of awful symptoms, including headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, stomach problems, drowsiness, sweating, excessive thirst and cognitive fuzziness.
'...The simplest and most familiar explanation is that drinking alcohol causes dehydration, both because it acts as a diuretic, increasing urine production, and because people who are drinking heavily for multiple hours probably aren’t drinking much water during that time period. But studies examining the link between dehydration and hangovers have turned up some surprising data. One, for instance, found no correlation between high levels of the hormones associated with dehydration and the severity of a hangover. It’s most likely that dehydration accounts for some of the symptoms of a hangover (dizziness, lightheadedness and thirst) but that there are other factors at work as well.
Most scientists believe that a hangover is driven by alcohol interfering with your body’s natural balance of chemicals in a more complex way. One hypothesis is that in order to process alcohol, your body must convert the enzyme NAD+ into an alternate form, NADH. With an excess buildup of NADH and insufficient quantities of NAD+, the thinking goes, your cells are no longer capable of efficiently performing a number of metabolic activities—everything from absorbing glucose from the blood to regulating electrolyte levels. But this hypothesis, too, has been contradicted by data: In studies, people with severe hangovers weren’t found to have lower levels of electrolytes or glucose in their blood.
The most compelling theory, at the moment, is that hangovers result from a buildup of acetaldehyde, a toxic compound, in the body. As the body processes alcohol, acetaldehyde is the very first byproduct, and it’s estimated to be between 10 and 30 times as toxic as alcohol itself. In controlled studies, it’s been found to cause symptoms such as sweating, skin flushing, nausea and vomiting.
Hangovers could also be driven by the way alcohol messes with your immune system. Studies have found strong correlations between high levels of cytokines—molecules that the immune system uses for signaling—and hangover symptoms. Normally, the body might use cytokines to trigger a fever of inflammatory response to battle an infection, but it seems that excessive alcohol consumption can also provoke cytokine release, leading to symptoms like muscle aches, fatigue, headache or nausea, as well as cognitive effects like memory loss or irritation...'
Read the rest at Smithsonian.com here.
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