- In addition to the negative effects alcohol can have on the brain, overconsumption of alcohol can also put your liver at risk by placing you at a heightened risk of developing fatty liver disease and of various toxins accumulating in the liver. If you are a regular drinker, you may develop liver inflammation that can cause a membrane to form around the organ, which can ultimately lead to liver cirrhosis.
- Large numbers of studies have concluded that there is no guaranteed way to reduce inebriation or cure a hangover, whether using medication or otherwise. The best way to ensure a manageable hangover is to drink in moderation.
- Taking frequent sips of water, or drinking warm ginger tea or fruit and vegetable drinks, in conjunction with getting sufficient rest, can help to reduce the symptoms of a hangover.
A hangover is a normal consequence of excessive drinking at any party or celebration. As the fun increases, alcohol can play a role in giving you more stamina, as its warm and scented embrace engulfs your whole body. This is because alcohol directly affects the central nervous system, relaxing your muscles. Drinking in moderation could leave you feeling relieved of any stress that can build up over the course of a normal day.
Chemists refer to alcohol as ethanol or ethyl alcohol, and classify it as a form of neurotransmitter. When we drink alcohol, our bodies do everything they can to flush it out of our body. However, its effects on the body are not limited to the increased liver function required to carry out that flushing process. While the body waits for the liver to carry out its duty, the drinker will experience a number of other physical effects.
As the alcohol reaches our stomach and small intestine, the pancreas begins to produce insulin in order to absorb the chemical into the bloodstream. Insulin is the hormone which collects any trace of sugar that may be floating around for use in various cells, and ensures that blood sugar levels remain stable. When we have an empty stomach, the amount of sugar in the bloodstream will remain at low levels. However, if we start drinking alcohol on an empty stomach, insulin will collect any remaining sugar in the blood, resulting in low blood sugar levels. This, in turn, will cause the drinker to suffer symptoms associated with a drop in blood sugar levels, leaving them feeling dazed and confused. An empty stomach results in alcohol being absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream, leading one to get drunk a lot faster than someone who had something to eat before or during drinking.
After alcohol enters the bloodstream its chemicals make their up to the brain, and will be absorbed into various regions, including:
- The frontal lobe: This area is responsible for decision making, mood control, critical thinking, concentration and personality. When we drink too much, we experience a loss of inhibitions, resulting in poor decisions and the possibility of irregular personality traits being displayed. For instance, a person who is usually quite reserved may begin dancing in a more promiscuous way. Prolonged alcohol abuse can damage this area of the brain, meaning alcoholics may experience difficulties learning and socializing.
- The hippocampus: This is the region where all our memories are kept, be they special or completely inconsequential. Should alcohol become absorbed into this area of the brain, we may misremember events that occurred throughout the day It can also lead some people to drag up painful memories that cause them to cry uncontrollably . Others say that alcohol helps them forget about things they would rather not remember, but this is by no means a predictable rule. Damage caused to this part of the brain by prolonged alcohol abuse can result in dementia and learning difficulties.
- The hypothalamus: This area of the brain regulates body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, appetite and sleep patterns. Should this region absorb alcohol, it will leave one feeling hungry and thirsty, and may disturb a person’s blood pressure, heart rate and sleep patterns.
- The cerebellum: This is the region responsible for balance. When we drink a lot, we will have trouble walking in straight lines, we will bump into things, and we may drop the glass we are holding. Alcoholics tend to experience issues related to balance.
- The brain stem: When we drink too much alcohol, the messages sent from this region of the brain to the rest of our body are significantly affected, leading to slower response times and difficulties retaining information.
- The medulla oblongata: This region has a greater influence on controlling bodily functions than our conscious mind, including vomiting, breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. Drinking too much can result in our being prone to vomiting and nausea. Moreover, drinking so much that the body struggles to respond in a timely manner can lead to loss of consciousness, shock, respiratory problems and even death.
The symptoms of a hangover usually include headaches and muscle pain, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, difficulties sleeping properly, concentration issues and an increased heart rate. Severe hangovers have the potential to incapacitate us or leave us unable to carry out regular daily activities. A severe hangover may also be a sign of alcohol poisoning, a potentially life-threatening condition that requires urgent hospital treatment.
What causes a hangover?
When alcohol is absorbed into the body, it is transformed into acetaldehyde by alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes. However, acetaldehyde is toxic to the cells found in our bodies, meaning that acetal dehydrogenase is needed to change this chemical into non-toxic acetate, which the body can then use for energy. Nonetheless, some people’s bodies are only capable of producing a limited amount of acetal dehydrogenase, resulting in an accumulation of the toxic acetaldehyde. This buildup can cause abnormalities to occur in the brain, central nervous system and digestive system, as well as disturb sleep patterns.
Techniques that can be employed to treat a hangover
A great number of studies have concluded that there is no guaranteed way of reducing inebriation or curing a hangover, whether by using medication or otherwise. The best way to ensure a manageable hangover is to drink in moderation. Nevertheless, there are a range of techniques that may be used to reduce the symptoms of a hangover:
- Frequently drink 1 or 2 glasses of water throughout the day to encourage urination that can help the body flush out any toxins left over from alcoholic drinks. Some people like to drink tea due to its nature as a mild diuretic.
- Eat bland foods, such as rice soup and rice congee, as these will help to relieve some symptoms of the hangover.
- Drink a sour and sweet fruit and vegetable smoothie as this can help replace some of the vitamins and minerals lost through alcohol use. This can help us feel less tired when hungover. Alternatively, you could dissolve an effervescent vitamin tablet into some water for the same results.
- For those who suffer from nausea and vomiting during a hangover, a warm ginger drink or mint tea is recommended as these can help to reduce those symptoms.
- Some vitamin supplements can aid relief of hangover symptoms, including Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Magnesium and L-Cysteine amino acid supplements.
- If you suffer from headaches and hot flashes, you may want to take some non-steroidal pain relief medication, such as aspirin or ibuprofen. However before purchasing and taking these drugs, be sure to consult a pharmacist or doctor to review your medical history and identify any potential drug allergies.
- Coffee may not be able to relieve your hangover but it might help you feel refreshed. Nonetheless, if you haven’t had enough sleep or rest, drinking coffee could ultimately leave you feeling more exhausted after the caffeine’s initial effects have worn off.
Taking the necessary precautions to prevent a hangover
Before drinking alcohol, it is crucial that you prepare yourself to help prevent a hangover. If you already know that you are susceptible to hangovers, you can try the following advice:
- Do not go out drinking on an empty stomach. Eat a small meal or a light snack first. This is important because drinking on an empty stomach will result in us getting drunk more quickly and can cause our blood sugar levels to drop dramatically. If you forget to eat at home, be sure to order a snack to eat with your drinks as this will ensure there is something in your stomach to prevent the alcohol entering the bloodstream too quickly.
- Do not drink too much alcohol at one time, or mix drinks that are too strong. It is recommended that you weaken your drink by combining it with a mixer and then slowly sip it.
- Drink 1–2 glasses of water per hour when drinking to ensure that any alcohol in the bloodstream is diluted, as well as to replace the liquids lost through the frequent urination that accompanies drinking multiple alcoholic beverages.
- Take a vitamin supplement or L-Cysteine amino acid tablet before going out to drink. This can help to reduce liver inflammation caused by alcohol-related liver cell damage.
In addition to the negative effects it can have on the brain, excessive consumption of alcohol can put your liver at risk, and can heighten your chances of developing fatty liver disease and of having various toxins accumulate in the liver. If you are a regular drinker, you may develop liver inflammation and risk a membrane forming around your liver, which could ultimately cause liver cirrhosis. Therefore, it is crucial that you take special care of your health by drinking responsibly and in moderation.