What is a Hangover?

Since Christmas is days away, plenty of people throughout the world will be experiencing hangovers between now and the New Year. After all, it’s the holidays and there’s lots to celebrate – friends, family, and all of the things we’re grateful for. Of course, some of use will be drinking more than usual because of holiday stress, but that’s not common.

The Mayo Clinic says it nice and simply: “A hangover is a group of unpleasant signs and symptoms that can develop after drinking too much alcohol.” If you’re in the habit of drinking too much alcohol on weeknights, a hangover Monday through Friday can lead to fatigue, concentration difficulties, headaches and poor job performance.

Is There a Magic Formula to Avoid a Hangover?

Essentially, the more alcohol you drink, the greater your chances of having a killer hangover the next day. But how much is too much? Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula that tells you how much you can drink before heading into hangover territory.

A hangover can often be described as a “screaming headache,” but before you think that you might be having an aneurism, ask yourself, “How much did I have to drink last night?” If you had more than two drinks, you’re probably experiencing a classic hangover. Rest assured, the symptoms should clear up within 24 hours.

According to Mayo Clinic, “Hangover symptoms typically begin when your blood alcohol drops significantly and is at or near zero.” You can usually expect hangover symptoms to surface after a night of “getting drunk” or otherwise drinking heavily.

Hangover symptoms:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling shaky
  • Feels like the room is spinning
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Upset stomach
  • Poor sleep
  • Poor concentration
  • Bad mood
  • Sensitivity to sound and light

When people get a hangover after a night of heavy drinking, they usually go away on their own within 24 hours. If you are experiencing regular hangovers and they’re affecting your job, relationships and general quality of life, it may be time to see a doctor.

If you experience slow breathing, pale skin, hypothermia, difficulty staying conscious, passing out and not being able to wake up, vomiting, seizures, or confusion, you may be experiencing alcohol poisoning, a life-threatening condition. Call 911 immediately if you suspect that you or someone you know may have alcohol poisoning.

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