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Hangover

Alternate Names

  • acute alcohol intoxication

Definition

A hangover is the set of symptoms caused by excessive alcohol intake.

What is going on in the body?

Someone who has a hangover has usually consumed a large amount of alcohol in the previous 24 hours. Most times, the alcohol also dehydrates the person. Some sleep deprivation is common. Alcohol intoxication can cause a simple lack of sleep or a disturbance in proper sleep patterns. Hangovers can cause a wide range of symptoms.

Risks

What are the causes and risks of the disease?

Some alcoholic drinks are more likely to lead to hangovers. These include cognac, wine, champagne, brandy, and some whiskeys.
Drinking on an empty stomach, having a low percentage of body fat, or being small in size, can also make a hangover more likely. There is a significant risk of death from alcohol poisoning if individuals drink too much too fast or ignore the symptoms of a hangover and continue drinking.

Prevention

What can be done to prevent the disease?

The best way to prevent a hangover is to avoid drinking alcohol. Hangovers are less likely to happen to people who drink moderately on a full stomach, and avoid becoming dehydrated.

Diagnosed

How is the disease diagnosed?

A hangover is diagnosed when drinking alcohol is followed by the common symptoms of hangover.

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the disease?

Hangovers usually go away within 24 hours. If they are not treated, they could last as long as 2 days.

Other Risks

What are the risks to others?

Hangovers are not contagious. Driving while intoxicated is a leading cause of injury to self and others.

Treatments

What are the treatments for the disease?

It is important to prevent hangovers by avoiding the causes. If a hangover develops, the person should drink plenty of fluids, rest, and avoid activities that need mental concentration.
Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (i.e., Advil, Motrin), can be used. A person with a hangover should not drink more alcohol.

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Ibuprofen can cause some stomach upset.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the disease?

There are few complications. Some people can stay dehydrated for as long as 48 hours if they do not make a conscious effort to drink fluids. Hangovers usually resolve easily by this time.

Monitor

How is the disease monitored?

If headaches and stomach upset last more than 24 hours after drinking, a healthcare professional should be called.

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