Causes Of Hangovers
Hangovers are multi-causal. Ethanol has a dehydrating effect (such substances are known as diuretics), which causes headaches, dry mouth, and lethargy. Dehydration causes the brain to shrink away from the skull slightly. This triggers pain sensors on the outside surface of your brain which causes the headache. This can be mitigated by drinking plenty of water between and after consumption of alcohol. Alcohol is also a metabolic poison, and its impact on the stomach lining probably accounts for nausea.
Another factor contributing to a hangover is the conversion of alcohol to acetaldehyde by the liver by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase. This metabolite is probably more toxic than alcohol.
Finally there are various nervous effects. The removal of the depressive effects of alcohol in the brain probably account for the light and noise sensitivity. It is also thought that the presence of other alcohols (such as methanol and fusel oils), by-products of the alcoholic fermentation also called congeners, exaggerates many of the symptoms; this probably accounts for the mitigation of the effects when distilled alcohol, particularly vodka, is consumed.
. The amount of congeners in the drink may also have an effect. Red wines have more congeners than white wines, and some people note less of a hangover with white wine.
Some people believe that sugar (often found in sweet cocktails) worsens hangovers.
Nicotine poisoning can often worsen hangovers, as smokers tend to smoke much more than usual while under the influence of alcohol.
Genetics also plays a part, as some people seldom, if ever, suffer hangover symptoms no matter how much they drink.
The psychosomatic nature of hangovers
shouldn't be ignored either. If people expect a hangover, they tend to feel one.
Portions of this article are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Hangover".
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