Alcohol Hangover: Hanging Over The Commode or What?

Alcohol Hangover Hanging over the commode or what

Some people wake up “the morning after the drinking” with a throbbing headache, a sick nauseous stomach, and a fluffy tongue. Veisalgia is the little-known medical term for this condition, but the rest of us call it a hangover.

Why is it called a hangover? While some believe it refers to “hanging over” the commode, it would appear more likely that the term refers to the after-shocks of drinking. Consider this: There was a neurosurgeon who showed up in the operation, the morning after an evening of heavy drinking, and even after a “good night’s sleep” was still in no condition to stand up on his feet. And every day at workplaces across Pakistan, businessmen, executives, journalists, generals, judges, bureaucrats, lawyers, pilots, politicians, and students find themselves hanging over the commode.

So is it possible that even after “sleeping it off,” when your blood alcohol level is back to zero, you might still not be in full possession of your abilities and skills? The answer is a resounding yes. This article is intended to demystify the phenomenon of hangovers. It will separate myths from facts about this very unpleasant result of harmful drinking. We’ll examine the symptoms, the causes, and briefly review the consequences, of hangovers. In the end, we’ll offer information on how to prevent hangovers; we will provide short and snappy guidelines. Of course, the best—and ultimately the only—way to prevent hangovers is to keep your drinking within normal range. Getting really drunk, even just once, is once too often. It pays to remember that, no matter what the circumstances, mindless drinking is always in bad taste.

Excessive drinking is on the rise in Pakistan. A lot of people drink mindlessly; especially young people. Based on a survey done by Willing Ways, Pakistan we can say that nearly one drinker in every ten suffers from a hangover on regular basis. Indeed, the latest research shows that approximately 3 out of 4 of those who drink mindlessly will have a hangover. One in four drinkers does not suffer from hangover symptoms after heavy drinking. They enjoy natural immunity.

The Symptoms of Hangover

A hangover is generally described as a malaise with a variety of symptoms that are severe enough to make somebody dysfunctional. The impairment in functioning begins when blood alcohol level drops considerably and reaches a peak when there is almost no alcohol in the blood. This means hangover is not because of alcohol. It’s rather the absence of alcohol, and the presence of the poisonous substances in the blood, which plays havoc with mental well-being. Want to know more about the culprit? Keep reading.

The annoying hangover symptoms don’t last more than 36 hours. The hangover symptoms fall into many categories. There is tremendous thirst, fatigue, depression, and distress. People also commonly report symptoms, such as muscle pains or cramps, and headaches. The most unpleasant and inconvenient symptoms include nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Pain in the stomach is very debilitating. Hangovers are often accompanied by increased blood pressure, rapid heart rate, tremors, and perspiration. People who are prone to panic attacks are also vulnerable to increased anxiety. Hangover also produces dizziness and hypersensitivity to sound and light. Since erratic alcohol metabolism also affects sleep adversely, it also affects attention, concentration, and short-term memory. It creates a deficit in skills.

The Causes of Hangover

A hangover is becoming a more popular research topic. The goal is to examine the role of genetics in it and explore risk factors that aggravate symptoms. It is now possible to determine the causes of alcohol hangover quite precisely. There are two main categories of the causes of an alcohol hangover: indirect and direct. Indirect causes include dehydration, low blood sugar, and poor quality of sleep. The direct cause is mainly attributed to the production of acetaldehyde, a toxin that refers to the term “intoxication”.

Alcohol Hangover 2

Excessive drinking assaults all the organs in the whole body; and the tissues under attack defend themselves and get hurt in the process. This rearguard action leads to dehydration and low blood sugar. Shortage of water and sugar in the blood also explains the discomfort of a hangover.

Obviously, the tremendous thirst, aching muscles, and throbbing headaches are the results of dehydration. When the body is dehydrated, it draws water from anywhere in the body, including muscles and the brain. As a consequence of that, the brain and the coverings around it shrink a little. The shrinking of these protective coverings is what causes the headaches. Dehydration also results in a substantial loss of essential salts, which can explain the cramps and unbearable pains in the muscles.

Quite a number of symptoms of a hangover are a direct result of low blood sugar. Almost all of the alcohol is processed by the liver. The liver also stores and releases sugar when needed. But the liver can’t do that while it’s busy processing alcohol. Sugar is the primary source of energy for the brain. A lack of sugar causes the brain to function at Econo-mode. That is why, a person feels weak, dizzy, anxious, depressed, and fatigued. He can’t concentrate. He also can’t see clearly.

Everyone who drinks to intoxication will suffer from low blood sugar, especially those who have little body fat or who have not eaten for more than 24 hours. They are particularly vulnerable because very little sugar (glycogen) is stored in their liver.

It should also be noted that the body compensates for a lack of sugar by producing other forms of energy, such as fatty acids. A higher concentration of fatty acids in the blood makes it acidic, which, in turn, causes a set of symptoms associated with alcohol hangover.

Among other reasons, the main reason people feel so bad the morning after getting drunk is the poor sleep caused by acetaldehyde which is a toxic sedative that interrupts the sleep cycle. Specifically, it can make you wake up repeatedly during the night. That’s why heavy drinkers feel so fatigued and out of control when it comes to functionality that requires attention and energy. Nobody sleeps well after harmful drinking.1hangover-alcohol-031

The alcohol is processed by the liver with the help of an enzyme that turns alcohol into acetaldehyde, a very toxic substance. Acetaldehyde is a chloroform substance that is then further broken down into water and carbon dioxide in a split second. People, who develop a metabolic error, can’t do so quickly and efficiently. As a result, acetaldehyde lingers on and accumulates in abundance. A hangover is a direct result of the erratic metabolism of alcohol by the liver. Accumulation of acetaldehyde explains both the presence and severity of hangover symptoms.

Obviously, the primary risk factor associated with alcohol hangovers is excessive drinking. The severity of hangover symptoms can be explained by congeners, i.e. chemicals found in alcoholic beverages, such as methanol, histamine or polyphenols. It is suspected that methanol and its degradation products—formaldehyde and formic acid—may be the cause of headaches, thirst, sweating, and dizziness. It is therefore believed that dark spirits, which contain more methanol than clear ones, may produce stronger hangover symptoms.

Similarly, drinks that contain high levels of impurities may bring on hangover symptoms even when only moderate amounts are consumed. For example, zinc and other metals are sometimes added to alcoholic beverages as artificial sweeteners or to enhance flavor. That’s why artificially sweetened drinks, sweet cocktails will produce stronger hangover symptoms than drinks sweetened with real fruit juice.

Psychological Vulnerability

There is a significant connection between drinkers’ psycho-social state and the severity of their hangover symptoms. In one study of 1,104 drinkers who had reported being “tipsy, high or drunk,” a correlation was shown between feelings of guilt about drinking, neurosis, anger, depression, or negative life events and the severity of hangover symptoms.

In short, the incidence and intensity of hangover symptoms are not due solely to objective causes; they might also be explained by subjective factors unique to the individual drinker at a particular point in time. This may be another reason why there are such variations in hangover response from person to person, and in the same person from time to time.

Alcohol & Tobacco

Unfortunately, smoking and drinking together make hangover symptoms even more hurtful. Nicotine slows down gastric emptying, so more alcohol is absorbed here and less is relegated to the small intestine. That quickly leads to the production of more acetaldehyde and greater toxicity, which exacerbates the symptoms of dehydration and low blood sugar.Reginal Combot user girl

Consequences & Remedies

A hangover is an obvious indication of harmful drinking. Headache is reported by everyone suffering from hangovers, but taking pain killers like aspirin, Brufen and Tylenol are not advisable for everyone. It is strictly prohibited for heavy drinkers especially those who are diagnosed with chronic liver disease. For some people, therefore, a hangover headache is a “punishment” that they just have to live with. Depending on individual sensitivity, combining alcohol with Aspirin or Brufenis, not a good idea. It can cause irritation or even inflammation of the mucous lining of the stomach.

The only safe remedy is to proactively heal the pain of a hangover by drinking sensibly and mindfully. Healthy low-risk drinking with exercise, plenty of water, and eating lightly can save your skin. But, if you decide to take only two drinks every evening and then end up drinking heavily, you are bound to go through the torture of hangover; only time will help you heal, if you develop a full-blown hangover, no matter what you do. A stitch in time saves nine. Drink mindfully; if you have to.


For more than 35 years, Willing Ways, Pakistan has been keeping people in Pakistan informed about how to improve your relationship with alcohol or call it a QUIT. At the same time, the organization has continued to spread the message that excessive drinking is not acceptable because of the risk to oneself and to others.

Reckless drinking continues to be painful, even when blood alcohol content returns to quite low levels. In fact, this is the time when the hangover is at its climax with a host of symptoms, which, in turn, can lead to catastrophes.1Alchohol-Hangover-011

When you’re hungover, you feel bad. Sometimes very bad. And when you have a headache, are sweating and trembling, and suffer from vision and concentration problems, it is just as dangerous as being drunk. While you are going through a painful and debilitating hangover, it is not advisable to drive a vehicle, operate any machinery, use tools, or otherwise engage in dangerous physical activity, assume responsibility for the safety of others, or take part in negotiations and make important decisions.

This warning is intended for anyone who loses control of drinking, but young people, in particular, should be aware. They tend to get drunk more often and quickly. They suffer more frequently from hangovers. A significant number of young people have jobs that involve the safety of others. For someone with a sensitive job, a hangover is not merely unpleasant, it is downright dangerous.

Willing ways, Pakistan, therefore, reminds everyone that the only way to stay in full possession of your faculties is to follow the WHO drinking guidelines. Also, you are more likely to avoid a hangover by not drinking artificially sweetened alcohol that contains other impurities too. And it’s better to stay away from certain types of alcoholic beverages that, even when taken in moderation, have more potential for the hangover. Last but not the least; don’t forget that irresponsible drinking is always in bad taste.