Feeling ill can take a lot of enjoyment out of life. It is hard to function as normal when there is discomfort in the body. A lot of the time illness is unavoidable, but it can also occur because of the choices people make. A hangover results as a consequence of overindulgence in alcohol. It is something that most adults will have experienced at least once in their life. For some people the symptoms of a hangover occur all too frequently.
Medical professionals will sometimes use the word veisalgia when talking about these symptoms. This is a Norwegian word that means uneasiness after debauchery. The term hangover began to be used to describe these symptoms at the beginning of the last century. It refers to the fact that the hangover is unfinished business from the night before.
Veisalgia can produce a variety of different symptoms including:
* Sensitivity to light
* Nausea and vomiting
* Body shakes
* Body aches
* Inability to concentrate
* Moodiness and irritability
* Sensitivity to sound
Although it is usual to say that the cause of veisalgia is overindulgence in alcohol this is an oversimplification. Some people seem able to drink large quantities of alcohol yet claim to never experience this symptom. Other people will drink only a relatively small amount yet complain of a bad hangover the next day. It has also been noted that certain nationalities tend to be more susceptible to the effects of alcohol than others.
Alcohol is said to contribute to the hangover symptoms through a number of different mechanisms such as:
* Alcohol works as a diuretic. This means that it increases the amount of urine that people produce. The effect of this is that a person could drink lots of alcohol but still end up suffering from dehydration the next day. Hangover symptoms like dizziness and general body weakness can be due to this lack of fluids.
* Going to sleep following a large dose of alcohol is not as beneficial for the body as normal sleep. This is due to the fact that the drug interferes with the regular sleep pattern. The end result of this is that people wake up still feeling tired.
* Excessive alcohol can lead to low blood sugar levels by interfering with the normal functioning of gluconeogenesis. Sugar is essential for energy in the body and this is another reason why people will feel tired, weak, and unable to concentrate the next day.
* Alcohol triggers an inflammatory response in the body.
* Drinking a lot can cause the blood vessels to expand leading to headaches.
* When alcohol is fermented it leads to the creation of substances known as congeners. These congeners are toxic to the body and add to hangover symptoms.
* Excessive alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach.
* Chronic alcoholics will start to experience withdrawal symptoms the next morning. These effects will last until they have their first drink of the day.
Some individuals are more prone to hangovers than others. This is due to their genetic makeup. People can differ slightly in how their body metabolizes alcohol. Of course one of the most important factors is the amount of alcohol that people consume. The extent at which people experience a hangover can also be influenced by:
* Body weight
* Level of hydration
*Choice of beverage
* Mixing drinks
* Tolerance for discomfort and pain
* People who eat food as they drink may be less likely to experience a hangover
If people drink a lot of alcohol then it may not be possible for them to completely avoid the symptoms of hangover. There are certain things that people can do that can lessen the symptoms of veisalgia including:
* It is best to avoid the darker spirits because these tend to have more unwanted ingredients such as congeners. Vodka is said to be less likely to cause hangover than whisky and white wine is less likely to cause hangovers than red wine.
* People should avoid drinking on an empty stomach. This is because food is able to slow down the rate by which alcohol is absorbed.
* Drinking a glass of water in-between each alcoholic drink is a good idea because this can help avoid dehydration.
* Don not mix drinks as this is likely to increase the number of unwanted congeners consumed
* Stick to safe levels of alcohol use.
People who overdo it with alcohol will usually have to pay a price the next day. There are things they can do to reduce these symptoms including:
* Replacing lost fluids by drinking plenty of water
* Eating something will help return blood sugar levels to normal. It is probably best to stick to bland foods such as toast. It may also be helpful to eat foods that contain fructose as this can encourage the body to burn alcohol faster.
* Even though a hangover is self-inflicted it is still a type of illness. The body is in discomfort and so needs to rest while it recuperates.
* Oxygen has been shown to help reduce the effects of general anesthesia. It is suggested that the same may apply in the case of alcohol too. Spending a bit of time breathing in fresh air outdoors may be beneficial.
Those individuals who have regular hangovers may have a drink problem. Over time alcohol abuse leads to addiction and this destroys people’s lives. Those people who can reduce their intake before developing a physical dependency should be able to drink socially in the future. Once an addiction had developed then the only effective treatment is complete abstinence from alcohol in the future.