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What Causes a Hangover?

Learn what causes a hangover in this Howcast video featuring addictions specialist Paul J. Rinaldi, Ph.D.

Transcript

People are very curious about what causes hangovers and if hangovers really are real, if they exist. The answer is that yes, hangovers do exist. What causes hangovers is very simple - it's excessive alcohol ingestion along with dehydration. The way to avoid a hangover generally is to not drink too much and also when drinking alcohol, making sure that you hydrate with water. Often, what happens is people do two things. One, is that alcohol does dehydrate the body. It takes hydration from the body. Even though people think, "Well, it's liquor. It's liquid so therefore, I'm hydrating." But it's not true. So often when people are drinking, they really forgot to also drink water so you need to drink at least as much water, but generally more water than you're drinking alcohol. So hangovers are really caused by the excessive alcohol and the dehydration that goes along with it and the symptoms of a hangover are generally a headache, nausea, sometimes vomiting, lack of concentration, feeling of general depression the day after. Hangovers could actually last up to two days, although the acute hangover part is usually the day following the drinking. So again, to avoid a hangover, you should be aware of how much alcohol you're drinking and be aware of how much water you're drinking along with it. That's the best way to avoid a hangover. People often think that the hangover, the potential for a hangover is determined by what kind of liquor they drink, the quality of it so people will often say that they when they drink fine wine they don't get a hangover as opposed to when they drink cheap wine. There's not real evidence that that's true. There may be some things in the cheap wine that may cause the hangover. There may be more purity in a fine wine so maybe less additives that may add to a headache in a cheap wine but I guarantee you if you drink too much of even a fine wine, you will still get a hangover.

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