It’s your body that’s hungover

It’s undeniable: waking up with a hangover can be horrible. The intense headache coupled with random waves of nausea is usually enough to make you consider quitting drinking forever (or at least until next weekend).

But there’s more to it than feeling like crap. Your body and brain are working overtime to help you recover from these drinks.

Curious to know what really happens internally the day after consumption? Below, the experts break it down.

Your body works to eliminate toxins.

According to Kate Denniston, a Los Angeles-based licensed naturopathic physician and founder of Los Angeles Integrative Health, the cause of a hangover is not actually the alcohol itself. Rather, it’s the byproducts of alcohol metabolism that cause hangover symptoms, she said.

When your body breaks down your favorite cocktails, it creates a toxin called acetaldehyde. Your body works hard to eliminate this toxin ― which is also carcinogenic, by the way ― resulting in some pretty painful symptoms.

Your kidneys and liver are forced to do a lot of work.

In an attempt to clear acetaldehyde from the body, your kidneys will really kick into high gear. This leads to increased urination, which can quickly lead to dehydration and extreme thirst, and even headaches and dizziness.

In other words, “a hangover is basically the signs and symptoms of dehydration and [a result] of the body trying to get rid of a toxin – a process that challenges the liver and kidneys,” said Ralph E. Holsworth, board-certified osteopathic physician at Southeast Colorado Hospital in Springfield, Colorado.

The lining of your stomach is irritated of all kinds.

You can thank that for all that post-drinking nausea and, uh, excessive bathroom trips.

“Alcohol also irritates the stomach lining and slows stomach emptying, causing nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps,” said Lantie Jorandby, chief medical officer of Lakeview Health, a addiction diagnosis and treatment center in Jacksonville, Florida.

You may feel anxious.

Studies have shown that alcohol can cause increased anxiety in some people. A study published in 2012 found that 7.4% of people with a hangover experienced anxiety as a symptom after drinking. Other research suggests that heavy drinking “lowers mood, disrupts sleep, increases anxiety” and produces “physical” and “emotional” symptoms the next morning. Finally, a study published in 2015 found that many social drinkers may experience emotions like shame, guilt, and embarrassment after a bout of drinking.

You have inflammation.

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Jorandby said alcohol can trigger inflammation in the body, which can also lead to symptoms like headaches. Anti-inflammatories can help with this, but you need to know which ones. Avoid acetaminophen, AKA Tylenol.

“Tylenol is already toxic to the liver in certain doses, and if you add it to residual alcohol in the body, it can be dangerous,” Jorandby said.

As you age, your body takes longer to process all of this due to fewer available resources.

We can age like fine wine in every way except a hangover.

As we age, our bodies are less prepared to deal with drunken shenanigans, which leaves us with a harder time dealing with hangovers starting in our late 20s. Although the reason for this is not fully understood, some believe it has to do with how quickly our bodies are able to process the things we consume.

“Hangovers get worse with age because every time we drink we deplete our body’s vital resources that help break down and process alcohol,” said fourth-year doctoral student Christopher Roselle. candidate and cellular expert at the University of Pennsylvania, who studies cancer immunology.

“Basically, every time we drink, we use ammunition to defend ourselves against alcohol-created toxins, and over time we have less and less ammunition,” Roselle said. “So as we age, our defenses weaken and our body becomes less and less able to defend itself against a hangover.”

In this case, the ammunition referred to would be antioxidants, enzymes, and amino acids found in your liver, which are needed for alcohol metabolism.

“As we age, we secrete lower levels of liver enzymes, which prolongs the process and lengthens the duration of hangovers,” added Leigh RenwickRegistered Dietitian at Copeman Healthcare Center in Vancouver.

How to Relieve Hangover Pain

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If you’re struggling with the pain of a hangover, there are several ways to curb it and some tips to keep in mind for the future. Follow this helpful wisdom:

First, watch what you drink.

The obvious answer here is to keep in mind how much alcohol you will consume in the future. Social drinking can turn into binge drinking much faster than most realize. The best way to prevent a hangover is to keep an eye on how much alcohol you’re consuming. (And if you can’t control it, there are resources that can help. You can seek treatment or help, you deserve to live a happy, healthy life.)

Limit yourself to certain types of alcohol when drinking.

“Avoid darker colored alcoholic beverages, including whiskey and red wines. Lighter drinks such as gin and vodka have less [alcohol components like] methanol congeners or metabolites, which tend to exacerbate hangover symptoms,” Jorandby said.

You should also consider “avoiding sugary drinks or cocktails, which can cause hypoglycemia to rebound and irritate the stomach, leading to a worse hangover,” Renwick added.

Chug H2O, maybe even more than you think you need.

Since dehydration plays a major role here, most experts will agree that the best way to reduce the risk of a hangover is to drink water in order to stay hydrated and dilute the level of blood alcohol.

Marissa Meshulama New York-based dietitian nutritionist, recommended drinking water between drinks.

“Do yourself a favor and stay hydrated. Have you ever noticed that every bar gives you a glass of water with your drink? Take advantage and try going one-on-one on booze and water. Your head will thank you later,” she said.

Meshulam also suggested having a “balanced meal with protein, fat and fiber-rich carbohydrates” before going out for a drink.

Denniston also recommended packing nutrient-dense foods. “Try flavonoid-rich foods like berries, parsley, citrus fruits, and sweet potatoes,” she says.

Try a tiny bit of caffeine.

“Caffeine doesn’t cure a hangover, but it will help you be more alert and clear up brain fog. Be careful not to overdo caffeine because it can also dehydrate you,” Jorandby said. (In other words, don’t use coffee to replace the water you should also be drinking.)

Stay away from the dog’s hair.

Sorry, but this bloody mary is not your cure. It won’t improve your symptoms in the moment and could fuel a more dangerous scenario in the long run.

“Don’t look for more alcohol to get rid of the hangover,” Jorandby said. “It will become a vicious cycle…and could lead to addiction.”

Need help with addiction or mental health issues? In the United States, call 800-662-HELP (4357) for SAMHSA National Helpline.

The Huffington Gt

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