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Hangovers are the feeling of general misery people get after an excessive drinking bout has ended.

Our evidence-based analysis on hangover features 46 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by and reviewed by the Examine team.
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Summary of Hangover

Alcohol-induced hangovers (medically known as veisalgia) are the feeling of general misery people get on the day after excessive drinking. You may be familiar with some of the symptoms[1]: headache, dry mouth, nausea, gastrointestinal distress, and dizziness. Typically, the hangover begins within several hours after drinking stops, when a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) begins to drop, and with symptoms usually peaking at around the time BAC is back to zero.

The exact reason why alcohol causes a hangover is not well-understood, but it seems that immune, hormone, and dehydration-related factors[2] are involved. More specifically, scientists have been looking at the following putative mechanisms[3]: (i) alcohol’s direct effects on electrolyte balance, gastric irritation, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), sleep disturbances, cytokine and prostaglandin production, dehydration, and vasodilation, and (ii) alcohol’s indirect effects on oxidative status through alcohol metabolites, such as acetaldehyde, and through congeners (substances that are present in alcoholic drinks), such as amines, amides, acetones, polyphenols, methanol, and histamine.

Despite the fact that hangovers seem to have important socio-economic costs[4] in terms of absenteeism from work, lower productivity or work performance, work-related accidents, interpersonal conflicts, and academic underperformance, little research exists on how hangovers may be managed or prevented. A 2017 systematic review[5] of the few available human trials concluded that a handful of herbal products may potentially help in the treatment and/or prevention of hangovers. However, none of them were effective in relieving all hangover symptoms. The main results are shown in Figure 1.

Frequently Asked Questions and Articles on Hangover

Why do hangovers happen and what can you do about them?
We’re not quite sure how hangovers happen, and the evidence on cures and prophylactics isn’t too convincing, but following some basic guidelines may help prevent and relieve hangovers.

Things to Note

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