Mama’s Gettin’ Old: Why Your Hangovers Get Worse With Age

December 30, 2014  |  

When you were younger (before you had kids?) you could drink your weight in liquor. That meant staying out all night on New Year’s Eve and making it to brunch on New Year’s Day the next day. Now it’s not so easy, and yes, your hangovers get worse with age.

So why does mommy have a hangover? Scientists aren’t completely sure what chemicals cause hangovers, though it obviously comes from drinking too much alcohol. According to new information reported by NBC, your liver also has harder time processing alcohol as you get older.

Plus, big changes in weight in either direction makes your body less able to tolerate alcohol. “When one’s body weight has increased, blood alcohol level decreases because of its wide distribution into body mass and fat, which leads one to drink extra glasses without realizing it, subsequently resulting in generation of more acetaldehyde,” Dr. Young Chul Kim explained to NBC. Acetalydehyde is the toxic chemical alcohol becomes once it enters the liver. “Or when one’s body weight decreases, greater intoxication results due to limited distribution to the body after consumption of an equal amount of alcohol.”

Even the supplements and medication you take to stay healthy might make it so a few drinks hit you harder than you used to the next morning. Those new substances make it harder for your body to metabolize that Ciroc you like so much.

There are many folk cures that are supposed to help cure a hangover. Many of them will help you cope by replenishing the vitamins and liquids you lost over night, while some, like avoiding caffeine, are important for making a quicker recovery. There is no one size fits all cure, the list below is a good place to start and you will need find what works for you. Sadly, that is going to happen through trial and error.

  • Sleep. Rest is your best friend at this point because your body needs an opportunity to recover. It is best to stay in bed so call in to work if you have to, tell them you have the stomach flu. You will sound so horrible on the phone that they may believe you (unless they saw you at the bar last night, then this is not a good idea).
  • Liquids. Replenish your body with fruit or vegetable juice and water. One of the easiest restorative drinks is to add a little lemon juice to warn water.
  • Avoid caffeine. A weak cup of coffee may be okay, but a lot of caffeine will continue to dehydrate you, which is the opposite of what you want right now.
  • Vitamin C. Drink orange juice for Vitamin C.
  • Food. Eat mineral and protein rich food, even if you don’t feel like it.
  • Take a shower. This will not only clean you up a little bit, but freshen and wake up your sense. Some people will also switch between cold and hot water, though don’t take this to an extreme.
  • Try Alka Seltzer Morning Relief. One reader says that it’s all that he and his wife have found that really works for them. He stumbled across this “cure” while his wife was still suffering after two days, within 15 minutes after taking the Alka Seltzer she was fine.
  • Get some exercise. Another reader suggests doing some sort of physical activity. He writes, “In the rare case of having hangover I usually drink about 1-2 liters of water and go outside to do some exercise like mountain climbing, swimming, cycling or just about anything that keeps me sweating.” It takes willpower to move like that when standing seems like a challenge, but there is truth to this for making both the body and mind feel better.
    Avoid pain killers if possible. The side effects of aspirin, Tylenol, and ibuprofen can be magnified when alcohol is in your system, so it is best (even though it may be the first thing you reach for) to avoid them to kill the hangover pain. Aspirin is a blood thinner, just like alcohol, and can intensify its effects and Tylenol (or acetaminophen) can cause more damage to your liver. Ibuprofen can also cause stomach bleeding. So be cautious when going for the quick relief.
  • Vitamin B. As an antidote, one reader takes a little extra multi B vitamin and drinks a lot of water before going to sleep.

So, enjoy ringing in the new year with some drinks, but be careful–you can’t hang like you used to. And make sure the kids wake up at grandma’s house.

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