Did you know that, on average, your body can process about one alcoholic drink per hour? If you drink more than that, you’re increasing the chance of a hangover the day after. And everyone’s body handles alcohol differently. Some people can enjoy just one glass of wine and reel from a hangover headache the next day while other people can drink to excess and feel fine the morning after. Whether or not you get a hangover really depends on a variety of factors, such as quantity of alcohol consumed, gender, ethnicity, level of dehydration, nutritional status, and medications.
At some point, though, if you’ve imbibed a bit too much, a nasty hangover will come knocking on your door and often linger throughout the day like an unwelcome visitor.
Imagine this scenario. You entertained your out-of-town clients showing them the town’s hot spots and cutting a deal over drinks. You had a great time and sealed a long-term contract. But after a late night, you’re now suffering the consequences today back at the office. You’re already tired—and it’s only 10:00 a.m. The blinding lights in the conference room make you wish you’d worn your sunglasses inside. You’re guzzling water like a pro football player at half-time. Your head throbs every time the phone rings. And that tell-tale brain fog is putting you off you’re A-game. Ugh.
When you’re in the thick of morning-after misery, it feels like it can last forever. In reality, it won’t. But How long does a hangover last?
Let’s find out.
What Alcohol Does to the Body
For starters, it helps to know how alcohol affects your body.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, alcohol negatively affects the brain, various organs (think kidney and heart), blood vessels, stomach lining, and several of the body’s systems.
Once you imbibe, the alcohol gets absorbed into your bloodstream until your body starts to process it. It only takes about five minutes for the alcohol to reach your brain. Initially, you feel happy and relaxed because consuming alcohol activates the release of endorphins. Your brain naturally produces these feel-good chemicals, and then your nervous system carries them throughout your body. The goal of endorphins is to improve your sense of well-being and reduce stress. But eventually, their mood-boosting effects fade away.
As you drink more alcohol, you become intoxicated and this can blur your vision, lower your inhibitions, impair your judgment, and decrease your reaction time—among other effects. Your body processes the alcohol into a toxic mixture that causes inflammation. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, so your kidneys produce increased urine. The skin’s blood vessels dilate. As your body tries to detoxify the blood, it struggles to regulate your blood sugar levels. Internally, your body is a mess!
What Are Common Hangover Symptoms?
Once you stop drinking alcohol, your body tries to get back in balance. As it recalibrates, you experience a mild withdrawal from alcohol, which briefly impacts your nervous system and causes mood disturbances—even causing hangover anxiety for some people. The end result? The ubiquitous hangover.
According to Mayo Clinic, hangover symptoms can include:
- poor sleep
- increased sensitivity to light and sound
- decreased concentration
- rapid heartbeat
- excessive thirst
In a nutshell, you feel terrible, both physically and mentally. And when you don’t feel well, your job performance suffers. You’ve got so much work to do, but you just can’t focus. You’re tired, irritable, and a little nauseous. You feel like you’ll never be able to make it through the day, but you can’t call in sick, either. You’ve got to keep on keepin’ on.
How Long Does a Hangover Last?
Well, when you’re in the grips of a brutal hangover, it might feel like it lasts forever. It doesn’t, so hang in there and be patient. A hangover officially kicks in several hours after you stop drinking alcohol. Usually, that means a late night out having fun followed by a morning feeling awful. Hangover symptoms typically feel the worst when your blood alcohol level reaches zero. It’s all uphill from here, even though it feels like a slow burn during your day of recovery.
How long can a hangover last? According to Cleveland Clinic, hangover symptoms usually start to ease up between eight to 24 hours. (Woohoo!) During this time, your body slowly eliminates alcohol’s toxic byproducts, rehydrates, heals tissue, and rebalances your brain and body back to its normal state. For some people, though, hangovers can stick around for up to 72 hours. (Yikes!) As mentioned earlier, whether or not you get a hangover—and how severe it might be—really depends on a variety of factors.
While you pretty much have to wait it out, that doesn’t mean you need to sit back and do nothing. You can take steps to ease your hangover symptom as you recover. Rehydrate your body by drinking plenty of water, take ibuprofen for your headache, get some rest, and eat the best hangover foods to ease your symptoms.
Although you can officially kiss your hangover good-bye after about 24 hours, the alcohol you consumed might produce some lingering after-effects—especially if you over-indulge on a regular basis. Because it affects the brain’s pathways, alcohol can impact brain function and cognitive abilities. Prolonged overconsumption of alcohol can also impact your body’s nutrient status, increase inflammation, affect certain organs, increase fat build-up in the blood, and raise blood pressure.
Everyone’s body handles alcohol differently, so whether or not you get a hangover depends on several things. Factors at play include the quantity of alcohol consumed, gender, ethnicity, medications, level of dehydration, and nutritional status. How long can a hangover last? For most people, hangover symptoms usually start to ease up between eight to 24 hours, although they can last a bit longer. Long-term effects of consuming too much alcohol can negatively impact your health.
|Author’s Bio: Lisa Beach is an Orlando freelance writer whose work has been published in The New York Times, USA Today, Good Housekeeping, Parade, Eating Well, and dozens more. Check out her writer’s website at www.LisaBeachWrites.com.|
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