15 Things You Didn't Know About Hangovers

I'm never going to drink again. How many times have you said that to yourself when you're hugging a toilet bowl the morning after the night before? Yet you probably will go out and drink again. And you'll probably have another hangover that makes you want to turn back time and avoid that third tequila shot. Even though hangovers are the worst! The splitting headaches and nausea are practically unbearable. Why do we do it to ourselves!?

Well, when you're knocking back the shots it's unlikely that you're thinking about the terrible pain you'll be in tomorrow. You're also unlikely to be thinking about what the booze is doing to your insides. Well it's doing a lot of bad stuff to your insides which you're about to find out about. You're also about to find out a lot of the things you thought were true about alcohol are completely wrong and the stuff you thought was a myth might actually be true! What you choose to do with this information is entirely up to you. I'm not promising that it will help you avoid getting a hangover... because at this moment in time there isn't a miracle cure.

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14 The longest hangover lasted four weeks


As you get older something strange happens, your hangovers start getting worse. But I'm sure that very few of us have had a hangover that lasted longer than a couple of days. Well one guy from Glasgow, Scotland suffered for a whopping four weeks, which is the longest hangover ever recorded. In late 2007 the 37-year-old went to a hospital complaining of a dull headache and blurred vision that had gone on for four weeks. Doctors later found that he had been on a four day binge, consuming 60 pints of beer prior to his symptoms occurring. Thus they concluded that dehydration, thanks to the copious amounts of alcohol, had led to a rare condition called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis. So maybe avoid drinking more than ten pints a day in a continuous period.

13 A coffee and some aspirin will not cure your hangover

We each have our own hangover routines, mine often involves fried chicken to be honest. It's a general consensus though that if you drink a strong coffee and take a couple of headache pills you'll feel much better. But that's a total myth. Coffee could actually make you feel worse because it's a diuretic and therefore could make you even more dehydrated. And the Journal of the American Medical Association strongly recommends that you avoid aspirin during or after drinking. It might help with a headache but it does nothing to help get rid of the alcohol in your system, in fact it can increase the level of alcohol in your blood by up to 26%

12 Hangovers are really bad for the economy

Sometimes you just get accidentally drunk on a work night, we've all done it. One drink turned into seven and you know what that means – a terrible hangover. It also means that you're much more likely to call in sick to work despite your illness being self-inflicted. You may not have thought too much about it, one sick day isn't the end of the world. But our collective hangovers have a seriously detrimental effect on the economy. According to research, hangover-induced “absenteeism” and “poor job performance” costs the U.S. Economy around $148 billion every year.

11 Hangovers are influenced by genetics


When people tell you that they don't get hangovers you often think that's just bull. But the truth is that some people are more susceptible to hangovers than others and it's all down to your genes. Research has shown that genetic factors can account for whether you get a hangover or not. In a scientific study, genetics were responsible for hangovers around 45% of the time in women and 40% in men. (Other factors include things like how quickly you drink or whether you've eaten or not.) Thanks a lot mom!

10 Cheap drinks make your hangovers worse


When you're trying to save a little cash you often opt for the cheaper house vodka over a more expensive brand. You probably didn't know however that cheap alcohol can give you painfully bad hangovers. That's because it's likely to contain more impurities or “congeners” which your body can't process and treats like a poison. Pricier drinks are purer because they are distilled more times than cheaper ones. It's also thought that darker drinks can give you worse hangovers because they contain more congeners than clear drinks. So choose expensive vodka over cheap whiskey if you want to avoid a hangover.

9 Carbonated drinks also make your hangovers worse


Prosecco, champagne, beer, cider, anything with a soda mixer – all of these can make your hangovers worse. It's as if the only way to avoid a hangover is to not drink anything at all... Anyway, anything bubbly can give you a worse hangover, it's not just a myth, there's science behind it. The gas in the drinks opens the pyloric valve transporting the alcohol from your stomach to the small intestine at a much quicker rate. Hence, you get more drunk more quickly. Hence, you're more hungover the next day.

8 Hangovers make your brain shrink


Alcohol does not kill your brain cells. Yay! Getting drunk might make you do stupid things but it isn't making you any more stupid. Alcohol does however shrink your brain which sounds pretty gross. Obviously we know that alcohol dehydrates you, but what you didn't know is that a lot of the fluid is lost from your brain. Ethanol dehydrates your brain and makes it shrink. And that's why alcohol can cause wicked headaches.

7 Women get worse hangovers than men

Us modern feminists don't like to believe that we can do any less than the guy next to us. We won't let guys tell us that they can drink us under the table. Yet, biological factors mean that women's bodies can't handle alcohol as well as men's bodies can. That's because women don't store as much water in their bodies as they hold more fat. While men's bodies contain more muscle which is made up of water. Men therefore can dilute alcohol a lot better in their bodies.

6 You might not have a hangover, you might just be allergic to booze

I can't think of anything worse to be honest. Can you imagine being allergic to wine? Some very unfortunate people are allergic to the ingredients in alcohol. Things like yeast, sulfur dioxide and other additives in wine can cause drinkers to have allergic symptoms. Those who suffer from allergies can come out in rashes or hives, feel short of breath and get all clammy. These symptoms you probably wouldn't associate with a hangover. But the flu-like symptoms you sometimes get after a heavy night can also be caused by allergies.

5 Hangovers can cause anxiety and depression

two-part mono cutout for pix daily tues

Perhaps you've experienced this before without realizing that alcohol was partly or solely to blame. It's fairly common to feel on edge after a heavy night out, and this is even worse if you already suffer from anxiety or depression. Scientists aren't certain but it's thought that it's the imbalance in your chemicals and nutrients which makes you more likely to have anxiety or depression with a hangover. Another theory is that alcohol causes a reduction in the set of neurotransmitters that are responsible for happy and relaxed feelings. Couple all of this with the fact that you may have done some embarrassing stuff when you were drunk and it's no wonder you feel a bit panicky when you have a hangover.

4 Scientists aren't completely sure what causes hangovers


Believe it or not, there are several hypotheses about the different symptoms involved in hangovers but there's no absolute scientific explanation. Dehydration causes some symptoms such as dizziness but a study also found that the severity of hangover was not linked to the amount of hormones related to dehydration in the body. Another theory is that there's a build up of a toxic compound in the body called acetaldehyde which causes the nausea and throwing up. There are lots of different theories so it might be worth concluding that lots of horrible stuff happens in your body causing lots of horrible symptoms.

3 People of East Asian descent are likely to get more drunk and have worse hangovers


You may have thought it to be a myth but there is a scientific basis to the idea that East Asian people will get more drunk and thus feel the effects the next day. They are more likely to have a genetic mutation that means alcohol is converted into the compound acetaldehyde (see previous) more readily. They are also more likely to have another genetic mutation which slows the metabolization of the acetaldehyde which means that the compound builds up in their bodies. That's really unlucky!

2 Hair of the dog does not work


I don't know about you but after a night of heavy drinking I couldn't bear to look at another drink let alone have one. Yet there are some who swear by cracking open another beer to cure a hangover. There's no scientific proof that this works however. You might think it works because you get that sweet tipsy feeling again rather than feeling gross. But really you're just saving your hangover for a later time when the hair of the dog wears off and you're potentially causing another, worse hangover later too.

1 People that don't get hangovers are not immune to the long-term effects of alcohol


It seems obvious but it might not be something you've thought about if you're one of the lucky few that isn't susceptible to hangovers. This is probably because you believe you're less of a light weight or something and so alcohol doesn't affect you as much. In other words you might in turn be more likely to get smashed more often because you don't have the fear of getting a hangover the next day. Nevertheless, the long-term detrimental effects of alcohol are the same whether you get a hangover or not. So maybe a hangover is a good thing sometimes? Nah...


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