What causes Hangovers?

What causes hangovers?

We get the lowdown on what they are, what causes them and how best to avoid (minimise!) the effects. Taken from Ireland’s multi-award-winning independent health website, Irish Health, we recommend this site for all your health queries coming up to the big day.

H is for Hangovers

Everyone who has ever had one too many knows the misery of waking up the morning after the night before with a thumping hangover. That combination of headache, nausea, hypersensitivity and gastric upset that we call a hangover is, of course, caused by drinking alcohol.

When you drink alcohol, you take poison into your body. Having a hangover after drinking is nothing more than the after-effects of poisoning. Alcohol poisons people in two ways – physically and psychologically. The physical effects include the familiar headaches, vomiting and nausea.

The psychological effects are subtler and vary from person to person. Alcohol is a depressant drug. Drinking too much is overdosing on a depressant. Your body responds the next day by bouncing back from the depression, becoming hypersensitive. This explains why many people with a hangover are cranky, irritable and easily upset.

The physical effects are the result of the havoc that alcohol causes in bodily systems:
Alcohol dehydrates the body. Your liver needs water to dissolve and expel the toxins it receives from alcohol. When the body’s reserves run out, the liver borrows water from other organs, including the brain.

Boozing can cause a mild dose of malnutrition, since it strips your body of its storage of vitamins and minerals, and depletes blood sugar. The loss of some of these trace elements can make a bad headache much worse.

Some alcoholic drinks contain complex organic poisons, such as methanol and acetone, which many researchers believe could be the instigators of a hangover.

In a bad harvest year, wine may contain more impure elements than in other years.
Nearly all red wines, and Chardonnay white wines, are matured in wooden barrels.

During the first three or so years of a wine’s maturing, many poisonous substances present at bottling are neutralised in the barrel. If these wines are drunk too young, they will have a higher level of toxins and may contribute to a bad hangover.

Read on to find more on combating and eliminating that hangover†¦