You go to lift your head from the pillow and it feels like it weighs 20kg (and the room is spinning, you swear). You lick your lips and it’s like licking sand. What’s in your stomach wants to come out the way it went in. And you’re thirsty. Oh, so thirsty. Yep. You’ve got yourself a hangover.
So is dehydration the cause of hangovers?
It’s definitely one of the main culprits! Since alcohol causes you to pee more, you’re more likely to become dehydrated. Dehydration isn’t just a loss of water, but also electrolytes such as potassium or sodium, so you’re more likely to experience an electrolyte imbalance with your hangover. Alcohol also suppresses an anti-diuretic hormone called vasopressin, which usually tells the kidneys to conserve and recycle body water. Since it’s suppressed, our bodies don’t get the signal and vital water is lost1.
But wait, there’s more
Dehydration isn’t the only reason for that throbbing head. Alcohol also induces inflammation, sleep disturbances and drops in blood sugar, which can all prompt hangover symptoms. Throw in a lack of vitamin B12, then add tiredness from your liver working overtime to break down the alcohol, and you’ve got the recipe for the perfect hangover.
You can also amplify the misery of a hangover through:
- Lack of sleep
- Drinking on an empty stomach
- Poor health
- Dehydration before drinking
- Increased physical activity while drinking
But what is it?
Effectively, a hangover is a collection (or collision) of physiological and psychological symptoms that include fatigue, thirst, headache, nausea, light and sound sensitivity and dizziness. The main cause is the chemical ethanol – the alcohol in your drinks. It works in the body as a diuretic, which means it makes you pee more and you can become dehydrated.
Beat it with a bacon & egg roll, right?
Alas, this is not the case. Greasy comfort food won’t absorb the alcohol which is already wreaking its havoc on your body. And if your stomach is feeling sensitive, greasy food might aggravate it. Nutritionally balanced food (sorry) is what you should aim for when you’re up for it. But in the meantime, to get rid of that hangover faster, a glass of Hydralyte is much more effective. Hydralyte helps replace water and vital electrolytes to rapidly rehydrate you and help you recover sooner.
Hair of the dog
‘Hair of the dog’ is a definite no-no. If you’ve had a heavy drinking episode, hangover or not, doctors advise that you wait at least 48 hours before drinking any more alcohol to give your body time to recover. So be a smart puppy and put the dog down.
Seriously, you’ll thank us.