The feeling is hardly ever mistaken for any other when one is experiencing it. The lightheadedness, banging ache at the base of he skull and a fascinating hallow surrounding one’s vision are distinctive. Hangovers are unique and a common problem related to alcohol consumption. Up to 75 percent of men and women who have tasted alcohol have experienced a hangover and quite costly as well in terms of productivity. In some countries, over a billion dollars is lost yearly due to absenteeism from work or poor productivity while at work. It is true that the more quantity you drink, the higher the likelihood of having a hangover? It is not true.
Before we proceed, what is a hangover? There is clearly no straightforward answer, but this does not diminish the relevance of this problem. There are some symptoms related to alcohol such as headache, diarrhea, anorexia, tremulous-ness, fatigue and nausea while tremors, cognitive impairments and visual disturbances are also commonly seen. A hangover is the presence of at least two of the above symptoms occurring after the consumption and full metabolism of alcohol with sufficient severity to disrupt the performance of daily tasks and responsibilities. These symptoms are usually observed the next day.
To be fair, the quantity of alcohol consumed has little effect on the risk of having a hangover, as over fifty percent of all alcohol related problems, especially in the work place, are caused by light drinkers and over eighty percent are caused by light to moderate drinkers. Fortunately, they are less susceptible to the long term effects of alcohol abuse such as liver cirrhosis and heart disease. Importantly, susceptibility to hangover can vary across individuals who have consumed equivalent amounts of alcohol. Gender appears to play a limited role.
An important factor that has little to do with the quantity is presence of other alcoholic substances other than ethanol referred to as congener. These substances include acetone, acetaldehyde and methanol that are present in different alcoholic drinks in varied quantities. Vodka and Bourbon, for instance have significant amounts of congeners. Cigarette smoking is suggested to also influence the risk for hangovers.
For some, there may be a familiar predisposition. Some families with a history of drinking problems might be exhibiting a higher incidence of hangover effects. This observation may highlight a difference in their biological makeup that affects how they handle alcohol. Lastly, the pattern, rather than the quantity also influences this problem as consistent drinking over time can lead to tolerance to alcohol effects. The liver simply mobilizes more enzymes to handle it.
Jonathan Howland, Damaris J. Rohsenow, Donald Allensworth-Davies et al (2008). The incidence and severity of hangover the morning after moderate alcohol intoxication. Addiction.103, 758-765.