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The Anatomy of a Hangover

It happens to all of us at some time or another but maybe to more of us on New Year's Eve. We drink too much and then we pay for it the next day. Are you hung up by your hangover?

Let me take a moment to explain what that excess of alcohol does to your body once the party is over:

  • Your throat and mouth are dry due to dehydration, which is caused by the diuretic properties of alcohol. The dehydration also affects your muscles, making them feel weak. So drink up! And I don't mean booze. Keep yourself well hydrated today to fight last night's excesses.
  • The excessive alcohol also irritates the lining of the stomach, causing nausea and sour stomach. The inflammation delays digestion, which in turn contributes to the feelings of nausea.
  • Your liver gets backed up trying to metabolize all the alcohol, so you might be experiencing symptoms of hypoglycemia, meaning you are highly irritable and moody. Some folks end up feeling ravenously hungry after a night of partying due to whacked out blood sugar levels too. If you can eat, you should eat.

Unfortunately, there are a few more symptoms of a hangover. To learn those, if you are not already experiencing them,


  • Your central nervous system becomes chemically overexcited, causing sensitivity to light, sound, and touch.
  • Blood vessels in the brain dilate, and that is what is causing that throbbing headache, which is only exacerbated by your dehydration mentioned above.
  • Your pituitary gland becomes confused and releases the wrong amounts of the hormones that regulate sleep. So while you may want to sleep it off, your sleep pattern is severely disrupted.

On the bright side of things, it is not clear whether hangovers affect cognitive abilities. But fear not, the aftereffects of your partying should only linger about for about 24 hours. Tomorrow is another day and it is a fresh new year too. Here are some recovery tips if you need them.


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