We may try to avoid them as much as we can, but unfortunately, hangovers are just a fact of life (well, at least for those of us who drink). Everyone's got their own method of getting rid of theirs, however, it’s better to understand WHY we get hangovers.
Alcohol's evil twin
The compound that makes us suffer when we drink is called ethanol, which is found in all alcoholic drinks. Once in the body, a part of the ethanol is eliminated by breathing, sweating and urinating (which explains why we always need the toilet when we drink…). The rest is supposedly filtered out by our liver.
As well as filtration, and after many reactions, the liver also turns ethanol into ethanal, and it’s this ethanal that is responsible for our hangovers. Our liver is equipped to deal with ethanal, but only in small quantities and to eliminate the ethanal (or acetaldehyde), it uses its supply of glutathione.
But when we drink too much alcohol, the glutathione supplies needed to eliminateethanal are emptied and the liver becomes intoxicated by the amount of ethanal that couldn’t be eliminated! And this is what causes hangover symptoms.
The amount of alcohol is the main problem (shocker)
Some drinks seem to be a lot more harmful than others and this is explained by the fact that they don’t just contain ethanol. They also contain byproducts of the alcohol fermentation process such as methanol or other organic compounds. This is true of whiskey, wine or brandy for example. And these byproducts can worsen your hangover.
Whatever the reasons may be, and since studies have been carried out to look into the exact causes of a hangover, it seems that the main reason for these unpleasant symptoms is the amount of alcohol ingested, no matter how they’re mixed. So if you don’t want to get ill, drink responsibly!