Harvard Health Letter

How to handle a hangover

Drinking fluids may help with the morning-after misery from getting drunk.

Hangovers seem to be the body's way of reminding us about the hazards of overindulgence. Physiologically, it's a group effort: Diarrhea, fatigue, headache, nausea, and shaking are the classic symptoms. Sometimes, systolic (the upper number) blood pressure goes up, the heart beats faster than normal, and sweat glands overproduce — evidence that the "fight or flight" response is revved up. Some people become sensitive to light or sound. Others suffer a spinning sensation (vertigo).

The causes are as varied as the symptoms. Alcohol is metabolized into acetaldehyde, a substance that's toxic at high levels, although concentrations rarely get that high, so that's not the complete explanation.

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