Hangxiety, sweatiness, and more.
We’re all familiar with that painful dehydration, pounding headache, and unpleasant nausea that results after a night of consuming alcohol. But those aren’t the only effects of too much booze — there are a number of other weird things that can happen to your body after a night of drinking. The classic symptoms of a hangover are the most obvious, but there some other effects of drinking that can happen all throughout your body, even if you aren’t fully aware of them.
"The effect of alcohol on the body is dependent on how frequently you drink, what quantity you drink and whether you are pregnant or have chronic medical conditions like diabetes and asthma," Dr. Alexa Mieses Malchukm M.D., a family physician, tells Bustle. Once you’re hungover, you might start to experience all kinds of odd symptoms, from the usual headaches to heart flutters and anxiety.
Not to be too obvious, but if you don’t want these side effects of drinking, you’re best off limiting the amount you drink. A night out can cause all sorts of wild things to happen — besides just drunk texting your ex. Here are nine weird things that happen to your body after a night of drinking.
"Hangovers involve a constellation of physical symptoms, and occur following ingestion of a large amount of alcohol," Dr. Scott Braunstein M.D., regional head of Sollis Health, tells Bustle. And one of the less expected symptoms is a vulnerability to sickness. A study published in the journal Alcohol Research: Current Reviews in 2015 found that drinking alcohol affects the immune system immediately, sometimes as quickly as 20 minutes.
Waking up with a pounding heart after a night out isn’t uncommon, according to Harvard Health. A study published in European Heart Journal in 2017 looked at attendees of Munich’s famous Oktoberfest, and found that alcohol was associated with higher risks of heart arrhythmias.
"Alcohol is a depressant that makes us drowsy, but the quality of sleep we have after drinking even the smallest amount is quite poor," Dr. Michael Richardson M.D., a provider at One Medical, tells Bustle. Although a night of drinking might knock you out by the time you’re ready for bed, you’re likely to wake up feeling much more tired than if you hadn’t hit up happy hour. Drinking alcohol reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is the restorative part of sleep, according to a 2013 review published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. This disruption in sleep leads you to feel more drowsy and less well-rested.
The lining of your stomach is often irritated by alcohol, according to Harvard Health. Result? Nausea and gurgling. Dr. Mieses Malchuk says you should also pay attention to how alcohol can interact with your medications and supplements. If you take your usual medication after a night out and suddenly feel ill or in pain, get medical attention immediately.
That stress you feel after a night out might be more than just regret. Alcohol changes levels of serotonin, glutamate, and other neurotransmitters in the brain, and when they attempt to realign in the morning, they can create "hangxiety," according to a 2019 study in Personality & Individual Differences. This can make you feel even worse once the alcohol has worn off.
The next day after a consuming a few drinks, we don’t usually look our best. This is because alcohol causes bloating and inflammation in the body, which can lead to red eyes or a puffy face. All that dehydration can also cause your body to hold on to water weight. And if you find that you go red regularly after drinking, pay attention; you may have an alcohol intolerance.
After a night of drinking, your working memory can be impacted, and you might find that you have a diminished ability to perform basic tasks, according to research published in Journal of Clinical Medicine in 2019. Long-term heavy alcohol drinking can also mean you’re more vulnerable to depression and anxiety, Dr. Mieses Malchuk says.
Ever felt shaky and weak after a long night? You can thank alcohol’s effect on blood sugar for that. Alcohol can cause your blood sugar levels to drop, according to a study published in Biomolecules in 2015. This can lead to feelings of dizziness and fatigue.
"A night of heavy drinking can leave us quite dehydrated," Dr. Richardson says. And when you’re running dry, your body has a hard time regulating temperature, which can lead to increased sweating. If you’re feeling yourself perspire much more after a night on the town, you can blame it on the alcohol. ‘Water is your best friend to help energize you and get rid of your headache," Richardson says.
Dr. Scott Braunstein M.D.
Dr. Alexa Mieses Malchuk M.D.
Dr. Michael Richardson M.D.
Brunner, S., Herbel, R., Drobesch, C., Peters, A., Massberg, S., Kääb, S., & Sinner, M. F. (2017). Alcohol consumption, sinus tachycardia, and cardiac arrhythmias at the Munich Octoberfest: results from the Munich Beer Related Electrocardiogram Workup Study (MunichBREW). European heart journal, 38(27), 2100–2106. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehx156
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