Experts explain the science behind headache

August 6th is International Hangover Day, and it is no coincidence that it falls the day after International Beer Day.

Anyone who drinks wine has probably experienced a time when they felt a little rough around the edges as a result of last night’s fun. To mark International Hangover Day, newsweek Asked scientists to explain the biological basis of hangovers.

“In some ways, hangovers can be best described as a mini-withdrawal syndrome in which the body reacts to an overabundance of drinking with opposite physiological responses,” said Dr. . George F. Cobb said. , Told.

“As soon as alcohol enters the brain, brain circuits begin to adjust to reduce disturbances caused by alcohol and return the circuits to baseline levels of functioning. As a result of this acute tolerance, when alcohol Turns off, activity in the circuit that was suppressed by alcohol now exceeds baseline levels of activity,” he said.

Two experts explain the science behind hangovers to Greeley Tribune and explain why binge drinking makes you feel awful the next day. The stock image above shows a group of friends with shots of wine.
Marcos Elihu/Castillo Ramirez/Getty

For example, alcohol initially slows down activity in the brain’s amygdala, which is responsible for processing emotions. It reduces feelings of anxiety, but stimulation in the amygdala the next day may contribute to increased anxiety and irritability during a hangover.

“Similarly, circuits initially activated by alcohol may become less active for some time when alcohol wears off. While alcohol initially increases the activity of the reward system in the brain, reduced reward activity leads to restlessness and anhedonia during a hangover. can contribute,” Cobb added. newsweek,

There are many other ways that alcohol can contribute to a hangover. For example, alcohol irritates the stomach lining and increases acid release, which can contribute to nausea and abdominal discomfort during a hangover.

“Alcohol is converted to acetaldehyde, a toxic metabolite that triggers inflammation and damages DNA. The contribution of acetaldehyde to a hangover remains uncertain. While alcohol may reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, it affects the architecture of sleep.” and reduces total sleep time, which can contribute to fatigue the next day,” Cobb said.

Dr Sally Adams, an associate professor in psychology specializing in alcoholism and addiction at the University of Birmingham, said that when the amount of alcohol in the blood is approaching zero, the body tries to metabolize it into waste products that can be removed from the body. could. Body.

“To do this, the body synthesizes a toxic chemical that makes us feel unwell, sick and nauseous,” she explained. newsweek, “Plus, after consuming alcohol, we see inflammation, dehydration, and an imbalance in electrolytes in the stomach and small intestine. Together these effects can make us feel awful.”

Adams said that to date there is “no solid evidence” for a product that prevents or reduces hangovers.

“Probably because it has many complex effects on the body and brain and most treatments focus on just one, that is, water for dehydration. The only way to avoid a hangover is to not drink alcohol,” Adams said.

Cobb said that drinkers should avoid exceeding the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to all three, adults of the legal drinking age may choose not to drink or drink in moderation. Men should limit their intake to two or fewer drinks per day, while women should limit themselves to one or fewer drinks a day.

,An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Cobb said. “Eating drinks and meals throughout the evening can help reduce overall consumption and help protect the stomach from direct irritation. While there are plenty of purported hangover remedies on the market, compelling evidence of effectiveness remains elusive. Preferred strategies for dealing with hangover discomfort vary greatly but water, rest and time seem to be common components.”

Cobb concluded that hangovers are not only pathetic but also dangerous. “During a hangover, attention, decision-making, memory and muscle coordination can be impaired. These effects make it difficult to do things like drive a car, ride bike, fly an airplane or even have surgery. Therefore, while alcoholism may be over, the ability to perform vital functions may still be impaired.”

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