Risk Factors for Hangover Severity

The severity of the symptoms of a hangover vary from person to person, and also depend on a range of factors including:

• Age: the older you are, the greater the impact alcohol will have on you and the more severe the hangover.

• Alcohol Amount: How much alcohol was consumed and over what period ? Binge Drinking, that is drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time, is particularly dangerous and will cause the severest hangovers.

• Alcohol Habits: people who drink regularly tend to develop some level of immunity to the affects of alcohol because their bodies become better at dealing with alcohol. However, this is only to a point: if their liver or kidneys starts to fail, or they begin drinking more to get the same “buzz”, then they are facing more severe affects from alcohol and a more severe hangover.

• Alcohol Types: What types of alcohol were consumed ? If you mix drinks and/or drink red wine then you will probably suffer a more severe hangover. Darker drinks, such as bourbon, brandy, scotch, and red wine, tend to have more congeners (see section 2.4 What Effects Does Alcohol Have on The Body?) than lighter drinks like gin, vodka, and white wine. Drinking these “low cogener” drinks should cause a less severe hangover. Red wine also contains tyramine, which can cause a range of hangover symptoms. Avoiding red wine should also help you avoid a hangover.

• Drugs and Medications: What else are you taking ? For example, if you are taking various medications or illegal drugs while consuming alcohol, then you will probably suffer a more severe hangover and also face an elevated risk of health complications.

• Food: How much food was eaten and when ? If you eat food before, during, and after you consumed a large volume of alcohol, then you will probably suffer less of a hangover. Eating before and during the consumption of alcohol helps slow down the absorption of alcohol and provides the body with more time to deal with the alcohol. If you can’t or don’t eat before or during the consumption of alcohol, then eating after the consumption of alcohol can still help. These strategies reduces the adverse effects of alcohol while also helping to reduce the severity of the hangover.

• Health: people who are healthy tend to be less affected by alcohol than those who have various health issues, particularly if those issues are affecting the metabolism, liver, kidneys, or circulation.

• Metabolism: people with faster metabolisms break down the alcohol quicker, so they are affected less than people with slower metabolisms.

• Sex: females tend to be affected more by alcohol than males, although at least part of the reason for this is due to metabolism, weight, and size differences between the sexes.

• Sleep: How much quality sleep was obtained ? Getting a good amount of sleep allows your body to deal with the alcohol consumed, and also allows you to sleep through the worst parts of the hangover.

• Water: How much water was drunk and when ? If you drink water before, during, and after you consumed a large volume of alcohol, then you will probably suffer less of a hangover.

• Weight and size of the person: larger people tend to be affected less by the same volume of alcohol.

So, for example, if you ate a good meal and drank plenty of water before, during, and after you consumed alcohol and didn’t drink to excess, then you will most likely be in much better shape and suffer far less of a hangover than someone who drank too much and did not eat or drink water.