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Hangover Signs & Symptoms

hangover signs

What Is A Hangover?

A hangover is the unpleasant set of symptoms that can occur as a consequence of drinking an excessive amount of alcohol. It occurs as the body's response to the toxic byproducts of alcohol metabolism and dehydration.

Symptoms of A Hangover

Hangovers can vary in intensity and duration, depending on factors like the amount of alcohol consumed, individual tolerance, hydration levels, your age, weight and other factors.

Alcohol's direct effects on the body, including its impact on blood sugar regulation, inflammation, and chemical imbalances in the brain, are thought to contribute to hangover symptoms.

Common symptoms of a hangover include:


One of the most common symptoms, often characterized by a throbbing or pulsating pain in the head.

Fatigue & Weakness

Feeling tired, lacking energy, and experiencing general weakness.


Alcohol is a diuretic and as a result, alcohol increases urination and excess loss of fluids which leads to dehydration. This can cause symptoms such as excessive thirst, dry mouth, dizziness, and lightheadedness.

Nausea & Vomiting

Alcohol directly irritates the lining of the stomach and increases acid release which leads to upset stomach, feeling queasy, and sometimes vomiting.

Sensitivity To Light & Sound

Increased sensitivity to light and sound, which can worsen the headache.

Muscle Aches & Pains

General muscle soreness and body aches.

Cognitive Difficulties

Difficulty concentrating, impaired memory, and decreased attention span.

Mood Disturbances

Feeling irritable, anxious, or depressed.

Sleep Disturbances

Individuals may fall asleep faster after drinking alcohol, but their sleep is disrupted, or poor-quality sleep, and they tend to wake up earlier leading to feelings of fatigue.

How Long Does A Hangover Last?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcholism, hangover symptoms peak when the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in the body returns to about zero. The feeling of being hungover can last for 24 hours or longer after your BAC returns to zero.

How To Recover From A Hangover

There is no cure for a hangover, but several strategies can help alleviate the symptoms and promote recovery.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can make hangover symptoms worse. Drinking plenty of water, before sleep and when you wake up can help. Some people turn to electrolyte-rich drinks or even IV treatments to combat dehydration.

Eat Bland Foods

Eating can help boost energy levels. If you have an upset stomach, the NHS advises bouillon soup (a thin, vegetable-based broth) as a good source of vitamins and minerals, which can top-up depleted resources.

Over-the-counter Pain Relievers

Over the counter painkillers can help with headaches and muscle cramps.

Avoid Drinking More Alcohol

Having alcohol when you’re hungover may make symptoms worse or just dull your symptoms briefly before coming right back.

Don’t Drive

If you still have alcohol in your system, don’t drive. Although the time for alcohol to leave your system can vary based on age, weight and whether you have eaten recently, most people sober up at a rate of one hour for one standard drink of alcohol. There is nothing you can do to speed up the process.

How Can You Avoid A Hangover?

Because the severity of a hangover increases with the amount of alcohol you consume, the best way to avoid a hangover is to drink in moderation or not drink at all.

When Is A Hangover A Medical Emergency?

In general, a hangover is not considered a medical emergency. It is a temporary and self-limiting condition that typically resolves on its own with time, rest, and proper hydration.

However, there are situations when symptoms of a hangover may indicate a serious underlying condition or require medical attention.

  • Severe dehydration: extreme thirst, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, confusion, or very limited urine output, it could be a sign of severe dehydration.

  • Persistent vomiting: if you are unable to keep fluids down or if the vomiting continues for an extended period, it's advisable to seek medical assistance.

  • Severe headache or neurological symptoms: confusion, seizures, slurred speech, or loss of consciousness should be taken seriously and require immediate medical evaluation.

  • Chest pain, heart palpitations or irregular heart rhythms: experiencing any of these during or after drinking alcohol is reason to seek medical attention promptly

  • Allergic reaction: symptoms may include difficulty breathing, hives, or facial swelling. If you suspect an allergic reaction, it is essential to seek emergency medical care.

Getting Help For Addiction

If you or somebody in your life seems to have an issue with alcohol or suffering from addiction, professional help may be the best option for recovery.

At Care Addiction Center, we offer treatment plans that address every facet of your addiction, serving individuals in Geneva, Batavia, Sycamore, St. Charles, and Kane County, with online addiction treatment available anywhere in Illinois. 

To get started on the road to recovery, or if you have questions about helping yourself or a loved one, call us today or schedule a confidential assessment online and begin treatment.


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