Monday, December 12, 2011

What Causes a Hangover?

I know what you’re thinking. All you want for Christmahanakwanza is to know what causes a hangover and how to not have them. This post is the first in a series of three about the causes, how to avoid and get rid of hangovers. Party on.

No doubt, hangovers blow. And everyone knows that drinking causes them. Duh. But in knowing the specific causes, and a little of the how and why behind them, we can still party like rockstars with as little feeling like shit the next day possible. This way you can go and do it all again the next night instead of sitting at home alone cuddling yourself in a snuggie.

So here are the causes of hangovers. Try really hard to avoid these or picture me saying “I told you so” the next day when you feel like crap.

Cause #1 – You are Dehydrated
This is a super obvious one. We all know that you should drink water when you’re drunk. I think I even learned this in school or from my parents or something. We'll blow through this one, but I’ll talk a little about how it works- hopefully the knowledge will help motivate you to actually do what you know you should.

Alcohol is a diuretic. That’s why there's always a line for the bathroom when you're out at the bar. Now ger ready because it's about to get nerdy. Alcohol gets into your blood and is absorbed by your kidneys causing them to decrease the production of a hormone that causes water absorption. Since this hormone is reduced, your body doesn’t retain enough water and you get dehydrated.

If all you got form that is booze makes you pee a bunch, that's good enough.

Cause #2 – You Haven’t Eaten
It takes a lot of energy and effort for your body to process alcohol. Lots of people go drinking for hours and then don’t eat anything until the next day. No food for a long time but lots of booze instead leaves your body without enough energy to process the alcohol. Then the next day your body is drained of nutrients and run ragged from the effort. The end result- your head is fuzzy and you feel like shit.

Cause #3 – You Drank Cheap Alcohol
Cheap alcohol contains a lot of impurities. They have gone through a less rigorous filtration process- that’s why they’re cheap. This includes rail brand liquors and cheap wines. The impurities get into your system and you feel like ass the next day. Plus they make you puke more.

Some people say that dark alcohols will make you more hung over. Sort of. Dark alcohols are more likely to have impurities and need a more awesome filtration process than clear alcohols. Jamison for example, is well filtered and won’t hang you over nearly as bad as crappy whiskey or cheap red wine.  If what you're drinking looks like the picture to the left, your tomorrow is going to be fucked.

Cause #4 – You Drank Jager
Jager has about every quality of something that will hang you over. Plus it’s fucking gross. Stop drinking Jager unless you’re still in high school.

Cause #5 – You Had Bubbly, Sugary and/or Caffeinated Drinks
These things won’t directly give you a hangover, but they do a lot indirectly. Lets break it down.

Sugar and caffeine delay the affects of alcohol, so you drink, don’t feel anything, and then drink more because it’s not working. In the end, you thought you were more sober than you were and consumed more alcohol than you would have if you were feeling the effects in real time.

Also, because breaking down alcohol wears your body down and produces other nasty shit in your system (I didn't talk about this last point because it gets too science-y. All you really need here is that the more alcohol that enters your blood, the worse you will feel tomorrow), the worse the hangover.

Lastly, if you are anything like me, sugar and caffeine get you jacked up and you do ambitious (stupid) shit like order lots of shots. Again, you are putting lots of alcohol in your blood stream. Sugar and caffeine also dehydrate you. Sugar + caffeine + alcohol = Three pronged dehydration action.

Bubbly drinks cause more alcohol to enter your bloodstream (opposed to get broken down). The more alcohol that enters your blood, the worse the hangover. So, if you want to get drunk faster and easier, but feel shittier the next day, drink drinks with bubbles. On an empty stomach.

I am sure that there are more but these are some good causes that are also super common.

It’s useful, or at the very least, interesting to know why you get hung over.  This way, you can hopefully avoid them. But then again, part of the fun of drinking is making bad decisions.  So now, hopefully next time you are out getting crunk you will save the bad decisions for stuff that doesn’t stop you from drinking again the next night. 


Want to practice drinking and not getting a hangover? You can get your booze delivered to your house. In an hour. And save $5. Check out Drizly - it's the only way I buy booze these days. 

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