Is Dehydration Causing Your Hangover?

From holiday parties to New Year’s Eve, we’re much more likely to indulge and drink alcohol at the end of the year. Of course, the holiday spirit can get the best of us sometimes, leading to a dreaded hangover. You know the feeling: headache, fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, dry mouth and aches.

Did you know that dehydration can cause of some of those nasty hangover symptoms? In fact, Dr. Gary Murray, of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, told the Huffington Post that dehydration was the “most severe contributor to hangover.”

Why Alcohol Causes Dehydration

It’s common knowledge that when we drink we use the restroom more frequently. But did you know that alcohol also causes us to produce a more urine?

In 1950, researchers tried to find exactly how much more. In their study[i], participants were served 5 shots of bourbon, and the researchers found the alcohol caused participants to produce an additional 120 milliliters of urine per alcohol drink. Thus, every drink you consume causes you to become more dehydrated.

At the time, the researchers didn’t know why. But more recently, studies have found that alcohol suppresses the secretion of an anti-diuretic hormone[ii]. The hormone, called vasopressin, is responsible for telling the kidneys to conserve and recycle body water. Since the hormone is suppressed, our bodies don’t get the signal, and this vital water is lost.

So Dehydration Is the Cause of Hangovers?

Dehydration and hangover share several common symptoms, like headache, nausea and fatigue. These symptoms become present at about 2-percent dehydration, which is about when we feel thirst. But dehydration isn’t just a loss of water, but also of electrolytes. For instance, urine contains potassium, sodium and other electrolytes.

Since alcohol causes more urine production, we’re more likely to develop an electrolyte imbalance. These electrolyte disturbances have been linked to a number of symptoms, including headache, nausea and aches.

But dehydration isn’t the only cause of a hangover. Alcohol also induces inflammation, sleep disturbances, acetaldehyde buildup and drops in blood sugar, which can all prompt or exacerbate hangover symptoms.

Preventing Dehydration When You Drink Alcohol

The 1950 study (cited above) also showed that drinking additional water helped diminish alcohol’s dehydrating effect. In a separate test, participants drank a liter and a half of water after drinking the alcohol. The result? Alcohol’s dehydrating factor was cut in half.

Therefore, it’s clear that drinking water whenever possible can help you avoiding dehydration during a night on the town. In fact, starting the night hydrated can help. One small 2010 study[iii] found that individuals who were normally hydrated secreted less urine after drinking two beers, compared to their dehydrated counterparts.

Of course, the best cure for a hangover is avoiding alcohol altogether or drinking in moderation. But sometimes, those nights happen. When they do, staying hydrated can help alleviate a nasty hangover.

DripDrop is a great-tasting, doctor-formulated hydration drink. It contains a precise ratio of electrolytes that aids in quickly reversing dehydration.

[i] Strauss, M. B., Rosenbaum, J. D., & Nelson III, W. P. (1950). The effect of alcohol on the renal excretion of water and electrolyte. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 29(8), 1053.
[ii] Swift, R., & Davidson, D. (1998). Alcohol hangover. Alcohol Health Res World,22, 54-60.
[iii] Hobson, R. M., & Maughan, R. J. (2010). Hydration status and the diuretic action of a small dose of alcohol. Alcohol and alcoholism, agq029.

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