If you’ve ever drank too much one night, you probably know what it’s like to have a hangover. In fact, hangovers are normal when someone who doesn’t drink often suddenly has a lot of alcohol in their system. The body is working to flush out this substance that it isn’t used to. But what about people who drink more often? If someone’s body is used to having alcohol around, does that mean they won’t experience hangovers when they drink heavily?
What Is A Hangover?
A hangover is a set of physical and mental symptoms that someone experiences after consuming high amounts of alcohol. These side effects usually begin several hours after someone drinks and may last for anywhere up to 24 hours.
So, what exactly causes these symptoms? Hangovers could have a variety of causes, depending on the individual. They are triggered by additional drug use, alcohol’s effects on the brain, alcohol withdrawal, dehydration, alcohol-induced low blood sugar, restricted food intake, poor sleeping patterns, and even certain personality traits.
The severity of a hangover depends on what someone drinks, how much they drink, how much they weigh, how old they are, and several other factors. But essentially – the more you drink, the worse you’ll feel in the morning.
Hangover Side Effects
While the symptoms of a hangover differ for everyone, there are some general physical and mental side effects. Physical side effects may include fatigue, thirst, headache, nausea, weakness, sluggishness, vomiting, decreased sleep, stomach pain, sensitivity to light, bloodshot eyes, dizziness, vertigo, sweating, dehydration, tremors, rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and insomnia. Anxiety, depression, loss of concentration, and irritability are some mental and emotional symptoms of a hangover. While these symptoms may be uncomfortable, they can typically be managed at home and are not considered dangerous.
If you experience any of the symptoms below, however, you should call your doctor right away. The following serious side effects of a hangover require immediate medical attention:
- Excessive vomiting
- Pale or bluish skin
- Slow or irregular breathing
- Feeling abnormally cold
Some people are more at risk for having intense hangovers than others. In fact, those who are at high risk for getting hangovers are also at high risk for developing an alcohol use disorder. Since alcoholics drink more than others, they are bound to feel more intense side effects after consuming high levels of alcohol.
Do Alcoholics Still Get Hangovers?
Yes, alcoholics can still get hangovers. Just because someone is tolerant to the effects of alcohol while they’re drinking it doesn’t mean their body will be as tolerant the day after. Those who suffer from alcohol use disorders are certainly not immune from hangovers and will likely experience more intense and dangerous symptoms than someone who doesn’t have an alcohol problem. For this reason, some people unfortunately continue drinking in order to avoid or put off the side effects of a hangover. And at the end of the day, hangovers don’t prevent people from craving alcohol and wanting to drink it again.
Risks of Alcoholism and Addiction
Alcoholism can ultimately lead to a variety of accidents, injuries, and health complications. Someone who is considered an alcoholic is at a higher risk for getting in life-threatening accidents, developing organ damage, weakening their immune system, and getting cancers of the mouth, esophagus, larynx, liver, or breast.
Preventing & Treating Hangovers
The most obvious way to prevent hangovers is to monitor how much you drink. If you plan on drinking heavily one night, you should prepare in advance. Drink water before and while you drink, eat a full meal before you start drinking, and make sure to get plenty of sleep before you go out and have a few drinks. If you know you’ll be drinking, try to have a few trustworthy people around you. If you experience a hangover after drinking, you should engage in light exercise and take pain medicine to alleviate headaches and nausea.
These practices are not as easy, however, for individuals with an alcohol addiction. Someone who is addicted to alcohol should build a strong support system and consider enrolling in a type of behavioral therapy, 12-step program, and/or an inpatient or outpatient rehab program.
If you or a loved on struggle with alcohol addiction and are looking for help, call Silver Pines admissions today to discuss treatment options with a trained substance abuse professional, 267.719.8689.