Can you die from a hangover? an image of a woman with her eyes closed, resting her head on her harm on a surface whilst holding an alcoholic beverage.

After drinking alcohol, hangovers are a common side effect – albeit unwelcome.

Typically, they consist of headaches, stomach issues and feelings of sickness, but some individuals may suffer from a hangover so severe that they may wonder if you can die from a hangover.

In this article, we explain what a hangover is, why it occurs and whether it could be life-threatening. As well as this, we’ll provide useful tips to help you prevent a hangover and what you can do if you are suffering from one.

What Is A Hangover?

A hangover describes the unpleasant physical and mental side effects of drinking alcohol. They most commonly occur the day after drinking but can occur later on in the same day that someone has consumed alcoholic beverages, depending on the time of drinking and how much alcohol has been drunk. These symptoms can vary from person to person and can also continue to affect someone for a few hours or even a few days.

The severity of the hangover also depends on various factors, including how much alcohol was consumed, what alcohol was consumed and individual tolerance. The science behind hangovers occurring is that blood alcohol levels in the body begin to drop when someone stops drinking alcohol, which causes a range of symptoms.

Common Symptoms Of A Hangover

Hangovers vary from person to person, as can the severity of the symptoms. However, some of the most common hangover symptoms include headaches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, thirst and dehydration, dizziness and mood changes.

A recent study by the Institute of Alcohol Studies found that hangovers in the UK cost, on average, around £1.4 billion annually due to lost productivity. Moreover, a survey from the Royal Society for Public Health found that British adults typically experience a hangover once a month.

Interestingly, though, the University of Sheffield and Ulster University found that Covid-19 changed alcohol consumption patterns and that British adults admitted to having more frequent and more severe hangovers.

Can You Die From A Hangover?

Whether it’s because of an unwavering sickness feeling, a banging headache or maybe something else, it’s not uncommon for individuals to question whether they will die from a hangover.

In 2020, nearly 9,000 deaths were caused by alcohol consumption, which had increased 18.6% from the previous year. What this means is that suffering from a simple hangover is not typically considered life-threatening, but certain symptoms can lead to complications, which can be fatal.

For instance, hangover symptoms can cause dehydration, low blood sugar levels and electrolyte imbalances. In severe cases, these can all be considered dangerous.

What’s more, some individuals may believe that the hair of the dog (where someone has another alcoholic drink to lessen their hangover) is beneficial. In actual fact, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can be life-threatening.

For this reason, if you are suffering from a hangover and think you require medical assistance, it’s important to seek help immediately.

The Complications Of A Hangover

The UK Chief Medical Officer has released guidelines stating that adults should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol every week regularly to keep risks from alcohol and hangovers low.

This is because alcohol consumption can cause a series of short-term and long-term health effects. What’s more, as well as being immediately uncomfortable, hangovers can cause several complications – some of which can be serious.

● Dehydration: As a diuretic, alcohol actually dehydrates the body, leading to increased urine production too. This can result in severe dehydration if someone doesn’t ensure they sip water regularly.

● Electrolyte imbalance: Alcohol doesn’t just cause the body to lose essential fluids but also essential electrolytes. This alone can impact heart and nerve function.

● Alcohol poisoning: When someone consumes a large amount of alcohol, it can lead to alcohol poisoning, which, if not treated, can be fatal.

● Accidents and injuries: Alcohol impacts someone’s coordination and judgement, even during hangovers, which can make the risk of accidents and injuries higher.

In addition to the above, if you regularly experience hangovers, this is a key sign of excessive drinking. Long-term and excessive drinking is linked to health conditions around the body, including liver disease, cardiovascular problems and certain cancers.

Tips For Preventing Hangovers

If you are looking to cure a hangover, then prevention is always the best tactic. With that in mind, here are some hangover tips to help you drink responsibly:

● Drink in moderation: Be sure to know your limits and how much alcohol you can drink without feeling ill. You should also be sure to stick to the recommended limits for alcohol consumption.

● Stay hydrated: We know that alcohol dehydrates the body, which can make you feel unwell very quickly, so be sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after drinking alcohol.

● Eat before drinking: Having food in your stomach can slow down the impact that alcohol has on the body and prevent you from being drunk and, therefore, hungover.

● Choose your drinks wisely: Certain drinks, especially those with high congeners like red wine, are more likely to cause hangovers, so opt for those without clean spirits and a mixer.

● Get some rest: After drinking, your body needs time to repair, so be sure to get some rest and sleep.

Find Support Today

While hangovers aren’t typically fatal, they can lead to serious health complications that can potentially be life-threatening if they aren’t treated quickly.

There’s also no denying that hangovers can make someone feel really poorly. But by understanding hangover symptoms and being aware of what they mean for your body, as well as practising responsible drinking, you can take those all-important steps to avoid an unwelcome hangover.

Plus, if you are concerned about your drinking or the hangover risks, just know that there is help out there if you want to talk. Our friendly team has helped so many individuals and their families to navigate life with alcohol addiction and the road to recovery may not be as far away as you think. Contact us today for more information.