From headaches to fatigue to nausea to vomiting, hangovers are the price we pay for a wild night. While they are never pleasant, many feel they get worse as we grow older. Understanding why hangovers worsen with age will give you a more complete idea of alcohol’s effect on your body, helping you to know your limits and drink responsibly.
What Causes A Hangover?
Hangovers are primarily the result of dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, causing increased urination. The more you drink, the more water your body loses, leading to the headaches, lightheadedness, and dizziness hangovers are known for.
In addition to depriving your body of water, alcohol has a number of other effects, including:
- Irritating The Stomach– Alcohol makes your stomach generate more acid, causing pain, reflux, nausea, and vomiting.
- Enlarging Blood Vessels– This exacerbates headaches.
- Reducing Blood Sugar– This leads to feelings of shakiness, weakness, and fatigue.
Now that you know what causes a hangover, you can better understand:
Why Do Hangovers Get Worse As You Age?
Just as the causes of hangovers are complex, so are the reasons they get worse as you grow older. These reasons include:
- Body Fat Buildup– Most people gain body fat as they age. Fat cannot absorb alcohol, causing your body to be more vulnerable to its negative effects.
- Lower Water Levels– The older we get, the less water our bodies can hold. Not only does this make alcohol’s dehydrating effects more severe, but it also means that our blood will contain a higher concentration of alcohol for the same amount of drinking.
- Liver Limitations– Whenever we drink, our liver removes toxins from the alcohol, but the liver works more slowly as we age. As a result, toxins remain in our system for a longer period of time, dragging out the negative side effects.
- Medical Mixes– The older you are, the more likely it is that you take some form of medication or supplement to deal with pain, chronic diseases, or vitamin deficiencies. Drinking alcohol while on a medication can exacerbate the negative effects of both, which is why doctors generally recommend not to drink under these circumstances.
- Stress Symptoms– Whether as a result of careers, children, or family life, aging tends to bring new sources of stress. Stress and alcohol use tend to exacerbate each other, leading to more negative feelings after we drink.
By understanding why hangovers get worse as you age, you can adapt your habits accordingly, drinking responsibly and taking proper recovery steps.
What Can Be Done To Improve Hangovers?
Hangover improvement is a two step process. The first is to be responsible while drinking. This means not drinking on an empty stomach, on medications, or while in distress. You should also try to match every serving of alcohol with a glass of water. The second step is to hydrate and nourish yourself once a hangover does occur. Drink plenty of water, and eat vegetable-based soups to restore nutrients; sugary foods may also help you feel less weak if eaten in moderation. Be careful not to take too many painkillers, as they can upset your stomach. These steps will counter the causes of hangovers, allowing you to bounce back quickly no matter how old you get.