Research shows that the balance of harmful bacteria and beneficial bacteria also affects your hangover. You may know a few tricks for feeling better, such as drinking a lot of water and sleeping it off, but you may not know that the bacteria living in your gut can also make you feel better.
What is a Hangover?
Hangovers usually begin several hours after you stop drinking. The symptoms can vary in intensity, depending on the person and the type and amount of alcohol consumed.
Several factors can contribute to hangovers:
- Mild dehydration: Alcohol destroys the release of vasopressin causing them to retain fluid. Consequently, alcohol increases urination and excess loss of fluids. The mild dehydration that results likely contributes to hangover symptoms such as thirst, fatigue, and a headache.
- Gastrointestinal irritation: Alcohol directly irritates the lining of the stomach and increases acid release. This can lead to nausea and stomach discomfort.
- Disrupted sleep: People may fall asleep faster after drinking alcohol, but their sleep is fragmented, and they tend to wake up earlier. This contributes to fatigue.
- Inflammation: Alcohol increases inflammation in the body. Inflammation contributes to the malaise that people feel when they are sick, so it may play a role in hangover symptoms as well.
- Mini-withdrawal: While drinking, individuals may feel calmer, more relaxed, and even euphoric, but the brain quickly adjusts to those positive effects as it tries to maintain balance. As a result, when the buzz wears off, people can feel more restless and anxious than before they drank.
- Acetaldehyde exposure: Alcohol metabolism, mainly by the liver, creates the compound acetaldehyde, a toxic, short-lived by-product, which contributes to inflammation in the liver, brain, pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract.
It is difficult to predict how many drinks will cause a hangover. Any time people drink to intoxication, there is a chance they could have a hangover the next day. Hangover symptoms peak when the blood alcohol concentration in the body returns to about zero. The symptoms can last 24 hours or longer.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Hangover And its Long-Term Effects?
Depending on what was consumed, during a hangover, an individual may feel:
- Thirst and dry mouth
- Muscle aches
- Stomach pain
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Decreased ability to concentrate
- Rapid heartbeat
- Reduced alertness
- Increased blood pressure
Excessive alcohol consumption can cause more than a general feeling of malaise the next day. Extreme alcohol consumption can cause acute alcohol poisoning which can be life-threatening. The symptoms of alcohol poisoning can include many of the same symptoms as a hangover, but usually more intense and extreme:
- Vomiting while unconscious
- Low body temperature
- Slow heart rate and bluish-colored skin
- Difficulty remaining conscious; cannot be awakened when unconscious
- Very slow or irregular breathing
If you see anyone with the above symptoms after drinking, call 911 right away. Stay with the person and try to turn them on their side so they do not choke on their vomit. If they stop breathing entirely, begin CPR.
How Can Probiotics Help With Hangovers?
Probiotics for hangovers are very helpful, even though hangovers are poorly understood medically. Many digestive problems, such as diarrhea, constipation, and IBS, can be resolved with probiotics.
Beneficial bacteria replace potentially harmful bacteria in the stomach and intestines, enhancing digestion and overall health. Therefore, they may prevent the build-up of toxins in the body after drinking alcohol. As a result, microbial components can translocate into the circulation through increased gut permeability. As the disease progresses, these alterations become more severe.
A substance called acetaldehyde is produced by alcohol consumption, which can impair memory and affect brain function. By producing enzymes like acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, probiotics can metabolize acetaldehyde. Additionally, probiotics prevent dehydration caused by alcohol’s diuretic effect by altering the gut bacteria.
The probiotics can not only help maintain intestinal homeostasis and prevent pathogenic bacteria from colonizing, but they can also help with alcohol metabolism by altering gut microbiota composition and decreasing ethanol toxicity through the modulation of oxidative stress, thereby reducing hangover symptoms.