It may come as a surprise to you that your body is working at its best. Your entire system has gone into action to rid itself of toxins and it is only when you drink heavily but do not get a hangover you should be concerned. The symptoms of a hangover are essentially the product of dehydration, it means you kidneys are working properly.
In a healthy body, alcohol causes a decrease in the anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) that is produced in the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. As blood alcohol rises, less ADH is produced and you lose more water through urine. leading to dehydration.
Alcohol is absorbed through the stomach and enters the bloodstream. where is causes the pH of all bodily fluids to become more acidic than they should be. PH varies through out the body. Neutral pH is 7, blood is a slightly alkaline pH 7.4, stomach fluids are very acidic with a pH of 1 – 4, the skin is pH 5.5. I f blood pH goes below 6.9 or above 7.9 it is usually if it lasts more than a short time. Acidosis causes only a fraction of a drop, but it is enough to disturb normal cellular reactions causing aches, pains, nausea and sweating.
Research shows that the level of metabolic acidosis is directly proportional to the severity of the hangover. The more you drink, the worse the acidosis and the worse the hangover. It takes the body between 18 to 24 hours to recover completely. Within 2 to 4 hours of the first drink, kidney output decreases dramatically, causing a state of temporary alcohol – induced dehydration.
In someone who drinks very heavily, the kidneys might not be functioning as well so they will not lose as much water and will not be as dehydrated. Despite being less effective at flushing out toxins, they feel the effects of drinking less than someone who is not a regular drinker. A hangover also shows your liver is working properly. As the liver breaks down alcohol, byproducts – acetaldehyde and congeners are released into the body.
Acetaldehyde can cause migraine strength headaches and vomiting. Congeners found in high concentrations in darker alcoholic drinks such as red wine whiskey and port cause tremors and even depression. Your liver tries to protect the body by releasing an enzime, alcohol dehydrogenase which breaks down alcohol into a harmless chemical so less enters the bloodstream. The high levels of alcohol dehydrogenase in our liver and stomach detoxify about two units of alcohol per hour.
Regular drinkers have more of this enzyme and will not feel the effects of alcohol despite the damage it is doing. Recent studies have shown alcohol dehydrogenase is more readily released in young livers, which is why hangovers get worse as we age. The enzymes the liver produces to protect the body convert alcohol into acetaldhyde, which damages the liver. That is why heavy drinking can lead to liver failure. Alcohol also affects your blood sugar which gives muscles energy, if you do not have enough energy, your muscles will not shake. The more often you drink alcohol, the less likely you will get the shakes. This is not a good sign – it means your body is desensitizing towards alcohol.