Causes of a Hangover
“It’s all your fault!” Although unpleasant to hear, especially when you’re suffering from a massive hangover, you did bring your current condition upon yourself. You alone are the one that raised that unnecessary drink to your lips. That one last “slammer’” seemed pretty innocent at the time didn’t it?
So, we can all be gluttons every now and then, but what actually happens inside your body to make you feel so ill?
Do not forget that alcohol is a drug. (A hangover is the result of your body experiencing a mild reaction resulting from an overdose of alcohol and certain “toxins” that are associated with alcohol consumption.) Your body attempts to protect itself by producing enzymes to metabolize (break down) and remove the toxins from your body. Unfortunately, the flushing is not rapid enough to prevent the effects of toxin ingestion.
This build up of toxins is believed to be a major cause of hangovers. When the toxin level exceeds your body’s ability to metabolize them in an efficient manner, you experience the unpleasant and classic symptoms of a hangover. The excess toxins may irritate your stomach, cause you to vomit, and in general, make you feel ill. Read more about the evil toxins on the biology page.
Dehydration (the loss of fluids from the body) is considered a major cause (and symptom) of a hangover. As you are drinking alcoholic beverages, your body is actually losing fluids. It is not known how much dehydration contributes to causing a hangover, but most experts believe it plays a major role, and all agree that it makes you feel worse. Read more about dehydration on the biolgy page.
Lack of quality sleep contributes to the general grumpiness and fatigue you feel as part of a hangover. When you fall asleep (or pass-out) after a bout of heavy drinking, the high levels of alcohol in your system drug the brain and prevent it from performing some of its routine tasks, such as managing your sleep pattern. You are unable to enter the important REM (Rapid Eye Movement), or dreaming stage of sleep, which is a critical element to a good night’s slumber. The next day, you may feel fatigued and listless due, in part, to the lack of proper rest.
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