Seeing as the delightfully hilarious movie “The Hangover” is one of the features offered at Grafton this week, I found myself curious at what a hangover actually is and what specifically causes it. Being the enlightened student that I am, I immediately threw aside my Photoshop assignment and sought out the answer. I credit the incredibly helpful site, howstuffworks.com as the source of my information.
A hangover refers to the uncomfortable symptoms experienced by a person after a night of heavy drinking. Common symptoms include: headache, dehydration, sensitivity to light and sound, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, trouble concentrating, difficulty sleeping, and weakness. It is generally agreed upon that the more a person drinks, the worse a hangover will be although this varies from person to person. Drinking on an empty stomach, sickness, performing physical activity while drinking, and not getting enough sleep are also factors that increase the intensity of a hangover.
When alcohol enters the bloodstream, it blocks the creation of vasopressin. When the body does not have enough of this chemical, the kidneys send water directly to the bladder, as opposed to reabsorbing it. Studies show that 250 milliliters of an alcoholic drink cause the body to get rid of between 800 and 1,000 milliliters of water. This is why the bathroom becomes a very popular place when people are drinking.
After a night of heavy drinking, the body is in complete disarray. Organs try to make up for the loss of water by taking water from the brain, which causes headaches. Frequent bathroom trips also get rid of salt and potassium necessary for correct nerve and muscle functioning. When these levels dip too low fatigue, nausea, and head aches can occur. Alcohol abuse breaks down glycogen stored in the liver, which is partly at fault for some of the weakness and fatigue felt the next morning.
I think it is, perhaps, most important to note that a hangover can occur from as few as two or three drinks. Although everyone is different, the consequences of drinking should certainly be considered beforehand. Also I must insist that if you choose to drink, please do so responsibly.
– Steven Butler