Health Tips & Info : The Causes of A Hangover.

There are several factors that play an important role in whether or not you'll have a hangover after getting absolutely sh*t-faced. Many of the causes are obvious and most of the time we know what our own limitations are, but still we go on drinking more and more without thinking of the possible outcome.

We can divide the causes of hangovers into 2 main categories...

* Direct Alcohol effects on body systems
* Effects of factors other than alcohol

Direct Alcohol effects on body systems

The direct effect on the body of excessive alcohol consumption seems to produce the most unpleasantness. Here are several ways that alcohol directly contributes to hangover symptoms...

Dehydration & Electrolyte Imbalance
Alcohol consumption increases urine production, which causes dehydration in the body leading to many common hangover symptoms including weakness, thirst, dizziness, dryness of the mucous membranes and light-headedness. And lest we forget, sweating, vomiting and diarrhea can also occur as a result of excessive drinking resulting in more losses of fluids and electrolytes from the body.

Gastrointestinal Disturbances
Excessive alcohol intake will irritate the stomach and intestines causing inflammation of the stomach lining and delayed stomach emptying. Alcohol can also produce gastric acid, a fatty liver, pancreatic and intestinal secretions. All of them can cause abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

Low Blood Sugar
Alcohol consumption can slow down the glucose production in the body and badly affect the reserves of glucose in the liver. As glucose is the main energy source of the brain, low blood sugar can result in fatigue, weakness and mood swings during hangovers.

Sleep Disruption and other Biological Rhythms
Compared to normal sleep, alcohol-induced sleep is usually of poor quality and short. This can cause the fatigue experienced during a hangover. Alcohol can also interrupt the body's temperature rhythm, nighttime secretion of growth hormones and cortisol release in the body. All of these factors can produce jet lag type feelings during hangovers.

Alcohol intoxication can result in the widening of blood vessels resulting in severe headache. Alcohol consumption also affects several hormones like histamine, serotonin and prostaglandins contributing in headaches.

Alcohol Withdrawal
Heavy drinking depresses the central nervous system. When alcohol is withdrawn, the central nervous system can go into an unbalanced, hyperactive state. This can cause the tremors and rapid heartbeat associated with hangovers. Many of the signs and symptoms of hangovers overlap with the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

Effects of factors other than alcohol

Other symptoms of hangovers can result from the withdrawal of alcohol from the body, the effects of metabolites produced during alcohol consumption, chemicals in alcoholic beverages, drinking behaviors and personal characteristics of the drinker. We'll discuss them in detail...

Most alcoholic beverages contain chemical compounds known as congeners. These chemicals contribute to the taste, smell and appearance of the drink. These compounds can play a role in aggravating the symptoms of a hangover. Research has shown that beverages which contain pure alcohol such as gin or vodka, cause fewer hangover effects. Beverages that contain more congeners, such as whiskey, brandy and red wine are more likely to cause hangover symptoms.

Drug Use
People who drink heavily often use other drugs and cigarettes. These substances can cause their own set of hangover type symptoms. Although the use of drugs like marijuana and cocaine can contribute to conditions leading to a hangover, their exact effects on alcohol hangovers is still unknown.

Family History
People who have a family history of alcoholism have a tendency for increased hangover symptoms, as compared to drinkers with no family history of alcoholism.