A hangover is a collection of unpleasant physical and mental symptoms that occur after a session of heavy alcohol consumption. The severity of hangover symptoms can depend on many factors, such as how much alcohol was consumed and the type of alcohol, but hangovers are caused by only one thing -- drinking too much alcohol.

How much is too much? Some people report hangover symptoms after consuming only two or three drinks, while some heavy drinkers never experience hangover symptoms at all. But for most people, the greater the amount of alcohol consumed and the longer the duration of alcohol consumption, the more severe the hangover symptoms.

Hangover Symptoms

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a hangover can include some or all of the following class of symptoms:

Constitutional - Fatigue, weakness, and thirst.

Pain - Headache and muscle aches.

Gastrointestinal - Nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

Sleep and Biological Rhythms - Decreased sleep, decreased deep sleep and increased slow-wave sleep.

Sensory - Vertigo and sensitivity to light and sound.

Cognitive - Decreased attention and concentration.

Mood - Depression, anxiety, and irritability.

Sympathetic Hyperactivity - Tremor, sweating, and increased pulse and systolic blood pressure.

Hangover Causes

Drinking an alcoholic beverage that contains impurities or preservatives can give you a hangover, even if you only have one drink. Some of these impurities may be other alcohols besides ethanol. Other hangover-causing chemicals are congeners, which are by-products of the fermentation process. Sometimes impurities are intentionally added, such as zinc or other metals which may be added to sweeten or enhance the flavor of certain liqueurs. Otherwise, it matters what you drink and how much you drink.

Drinking to excess is more likely to cause a hangover than drinking moderately. You get a hangover because the ethanol in the drink caused increase urine production, leading to dehydration. Dehydration causes headaches, fatigue, and dry mouth. Alcohol also reacts with the stomach lining, which can lead to nausea. Ethanol is metabolized into acetaldehyde, which is actually a lot more toxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic than the alcohol itself. It takes time to break down the acetaldehyde into acetic acid, during which you'll experience all the symptoms of acetaldehyde exposure.

Home Remedies for a Hangover:

As mentioned earlier, a hangover is caused due to dehydration. So it is very important that you drink enough water to hydrate yourself and to flush out the toxins from your system. Drink a few glasses of water before you get into bed.

Since your body has also lost a lot of essential nutrients, fruit juices are an effective remedy as they help to replenish nutrients and minerals.

Lemon tea is known to be good for hangovers. Lemon tea will flush out the toxins from your stomach. You might also want to mix some fresh lemon juice in cold water to get relief from a hangover. This can even control the level of sugar in your blood.

Honey contains fructose which prevents rapid changes in alcohol levels. Eat a few spoonfuls of honey every hour to negate the harmful effect of alcohol.

Fruits such as bananas and apples are known to be effective cures for hangovers. Munch an apple on an empty stomach and you might feel better. Or eat a banana. You can even make a mash with milk and banana with a spoonful of honey to get relief. The fruits will help the body get back the minerals it might have lost due to an overdose of alcohol.

Chew a few small pieces of ginger or brew a cup of tea with the root for relief from a hangover. It will help the system digest the alcohol and soothe the stomach.

Raw cabbage is known to be good for treating a hangover. Chew a piece of raw cabbage to get relief from a headache. You can even munch cabbage along with a glass of tomato juice to cure the hangover.

Find powerful herbal remedies Hangover

Peppermint and primrose oil are also good home remedies.

Two common hangover symptoms are fatigue and drowsiness. When you go to sleep with a high amount of alcohol in your system, your brain is unable to enter the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage of sleep. Without the REM stage of sleep, your brain is unable to dream and achieve the relaxation it needs. So while you may end up sleeping the whole night and half the day away, your brain did not get the rest it so desperately needs.

Headaches are another common hangover symptom. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, so the more you drink, the more water your body will need to dilute the toxin. This water is then expelled from the body in the form of urine. The water needs to come from somewhere, so if you don't drink water while drinking alcohol, your body will start depriving other organs in your body from water, including your brain. The headaches you experience are a result of dehydration of the brain.

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