According to George Koob, PhD, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), “hangovers are easy to explain because they’re basically a mini withdrawal syndrome. Any time you take an intoxicant, your brain changes. So your brain adapts to that change, and then when the drug is removed, the opposite reaction occurs. Most of the symptoms of a hangover are the opposite of what you get when you’re intoxicated with alcohol.”
Turns out abusing alcohol has more side effects than just a horrible hangover.
- Inflammation. Alcohol is an analgesic and can dull both physical and emotional pain. However, when it wears off, the pain comes back twofold. It also releases pro-inflammatory compounds called cytokines.
- Hello Anxiety. Koob elaborates upon the fact that, “any anxiety symptoms or increase in heart rate we call sympathetic reactions. Those are due to the fact that when you’re intoxicated, those effects are blocked. So when alcohol is removed, they tend to manifest themselves. The alcohol has worn off and your brain is not in a high-excitability state.”
- Team No Sleep. A night of drinking can ruin your sleep for the next few days, as well as increase REM sleep and thus, give you more nightmares.
- Surprise Alcohol Intolerance. Do you usually wake up congested with sinus pain the day after drinking? Well, you might in fact have alcohol intolerance. Many people are allergic to a certain ingredient in alcohol; such as: grains, chemicals, or preservatives, and experience symptoms such as: extreme congestion, flushing, hives, headache, or worsening of existing asthma.
- Puffy Sad Face. While alcohol dehydrates you, Koob explains how, “the kidneys excrete dilute urine containing low levels of sodium and other electrolytes, resulting in elevated amounts of sodium in the body.” As a result, drinking water in an effort to undo all of the torture that you put your body through the night before, will cause swelling and that dreaded puffiness.