When it comes to vice, the excess is never a good thing. The more you indulge, the greater the consequences. You may feel like you can handle your drinking or drug use, but even Amazon’s chief executive officer acknowledges that too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. When it comes to hangovers, there are plenty of ideas about what causes them and what we can do about them.
However, if you’re reading this article, you probably don’t need any convincing that drinking too much alcohol has adverse effects on your body. Hangovers are one of the most common side effects of overindulging in alcohol. As such, reading on to know more about what happens in your body during a hangover may not be something you want to do; but as Winston Churchill once said: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”
What Happens When You Drink Too Much?
When you drink too much, your body is overwhelmed by the amount of alcohol. The liver has to work hard to turn the alcohol into a substance that can be easily eliminated from the body. This causes the liver to temporarily reduce the number of other substances it makes. That reduced production of essential body chemicals associated with the liver can lead to a wide range of symptoms. For example, you may experience an upset stomach, vomiting, or even have a seizure.
In addition, alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways. This can cause short-term damage, such as blackouts or forgetting events that occurred while drinking, and long-term problems, such as an increased risk of developing dementia. Drinking too much is also associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, such as breast cancer.
Morning After: The Hangover
The morning after a night of heavy drinking, you are likely to experience a hangover. As the liver continues to break down the alcohol, it causes several symptoms. The most common of these are headaches, nausea, vomiting, shakiness, sweating, and an increase in urination. You may experience a general feeling of malaise, fatigue, or weakness. These symptoms are caused by the low levels of ethanol metabolites in the blood, low blood sugar, and electrolyte imbalances in the body.
Unfortunately, there’s no guaranteed way to avoid a hangover. The best way to reduce the chances of experiencing one is to drink in moderation – no more than one drink per day for men and one drink per week for women. Drinking plenty of water before and during drinking sessions can help prevent dehydration, which can exacerbate hangover symptoms.
Muscles Aching from Alcohol Consumption
The aches you feel in your muscles after drinking alcohol are actually caused by dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you urinate more than normal. When you are dehydrated, your muscles cramp because they don’t have enough water to expand and contract smoothly. Bloating and swelling caused by water retention are additional problems associated with alcohol consumption.
Alcohol makes the kidneys retain water and sodium which can lead to water retention and swollen ankles and fingers. Prevent muscle aches by hydrating before, during and after drinking alcohol. Sports drinks are a great option because they replenish important minerals like sodium, potassium and magnesium that are lost when you urinate.
Dehydration From Urinating More Than Normal
When you drink alcohol, it interferes with the body’s ability to regulate temperature, which is why you may notice yourself sweating more as the night wears on. But sweating is just one way that the body regulates temperature. It also does so by increasing urination. When you drink alcohol, you urinate more often than normal. This causes a loss of water from your body and can lead to dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include headaches, dry mouth and dizziness. Typical symptoms of dehydration include:
- Dry mouth – No surprise there; alcohol dehydrates the mouth.
- Dry Skin – One of the first signs of dehydration is dry and itchy skin.
- Headaches – Dehydration can cause headaches.
- Fatigue – If you’re dehydrated, you’re bound to feel fatigued.
- Muscle cramps – Lack of hydration can cause stiffness in the muscles.
- Dizziness – Dehydration can cause lightheadedness and dizziness.
Nausea and Vomiting From Your Drunk Diet
One of the most common residual effects of drinking alcohol is nausea. This may be accompanied by vomiting. Alcohol increases acid secretion in the stomach and impairs the release of digestive enzymes. The result is a stomach full of undigested food and lots of acid. While alcohol is being digested, you may experience a drop in blood sugar levels, which could lead to feelings of light-headedness or dizziness.
Furthermore, consuming food while drinking may exacerbate the effects of alcohol. The combination of heavy drinking and a heavy snack is likely to increase feelings of nausea and vomiting. To avoid developing alcohol-related nausea, eat before drinking. Try snacking on foods high in protein, like nuts. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of non-alcoholic beverages, especially water.
Your Brain Is Slowly Dying
Alcohol is a neurotoxin, which means it slowly kills brain cells. The more you drink, the more brain cells you lose. This is especially problematic for young people whose brains are still developing, as excessive alcohol consumption can cause irreparable damage. Ethanol, the active ingredient in alcohol, increases levels of a neurotransmitter called GABA in the brain. GABA is often referred to as the brain’s “off switch,” and it slows down brain activity. At moderate levels, GABA is associated with relaxation, but high levels of the neurotransmitter may lead to sedation, coma and death.
While alcohol is often associated with fun and good times, it’s important to remember that what goes up must come down. Drinking too much can cause great harm to both your body and your wallet, making it a high-risk activity. To reduce the risk of experiencing negative side effects, remember to drink responsibly and don’t mix your drinks.