What is a Hangover?

Most of us have experienced those miserable mornings after a night of drinking with friends or family. We tend to stay in our pajamas with the blinds drawn shut and wait for the torture to end. At some point in our lives, we may have questioned what is happening in our bodies when we are going through a hangover. The answer is not so simple due to the complex processes that are happening, but over the course of the next couple of minutes, we will break down what is exactly happening.

Let’s fast forward to the morning of the hangover, after a night out drinking. Most of us have experienced headaches, nausea, and fatigue that accompany a hangover, but people can also experience tachycardia, tremors, sweating, anxiety, irritability and a decreased occupational, cognitive or visual-spatial skill performance. These hangover symptoms are caused by the toxic effects of alcohol, accompanied by dehydration and dysregulated cytokine pathways.

A hangover begins several hours after the cessation of alcohol, with symptoms peaking around the time blood alcohol concentration is zero and may continue for up to 24 hours. Alcohol causes dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, gastrointestinal disturbances, sleep disturbance and can even result in low blood sugar levels.

Most of us know that alcohol is a diuretic, which increases urinary output. Alcohol inhibits the release/effects of an anti-diuretic hormone from acting on the kidneys, which induces diuresis out of proportion to the volume of fluid ingested. This creates a state of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance in the body, promoting hangover symptoms.

Some of us have experienced the dreaded “hangover diarrhea” or some level of gastrointestinal disturbance while being hungover. Alcohol irritates the stomach and intestines causing inflammation of the stomach lining and delayed stomach emptying. The increased production of gastric acid, pancreatic and intestinal secretions lead to abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.

Alcohol directly affects normal sleep patterns. It decreases the time spent in REM sleep and increases the time spent in a deep sleep. Because of this we often wake to feel unrefreshed and extremely fatigued. Alcohol also disrupts our normal circadian rhythm in the body and dysregulated out body temperature. Body temperature typically decreases during intoxication and increases while we are experiencing a hangover.

The goal of this blog is not to scare people into never drinking again. It is to empower people with information, so they can make smart decisions around alcohol consumption. What is nice about IV therapy is that it allows for a quick delivery of fluid, electrolytes, minerals and vitamins into the body and allocate them where they are needed the most. The introduction of these substances into the body will help to reduce the time in which a hangover lasts. Correcting the imbalances that alcohol creates is key in recovering quickly

At the Holistique IV Lounge in Bellevue, WA there is a NutraDriptm specifically targeted to help combat the effects of a hangover. The Hangover IV contains B vitamins, Vitamin C, Amino Acids and minerals to help hydrate and recover from a late night out drinking. For more information about IV Drip Therapy, please look at our blog post What is IV Drip Therapy? To book an appointment for a Hangover IV or any of the other NutraDriptm formulations that Holistique IV Lounge offers, please visit our book now page.



Swift, Robert, and Dena Davidson. “Alcohol hangover.” Alcohol Health Res World 22 (1998): 54-60.
Wiese, Jeffrey G., Michael G. Shlipak, and Warren S. Browner. “The alcohol hangover.” Annals of internal medicine 132.11 (2000): 897-902.

Dr. Justin Newell is a licensed Naturopathic Physician in the State of Washington. He specializes in the treatment of men’s health, sports medicine, physical medicine, and IV therapy. Addressing the root cause in these specialty areas, help to optimize a person's physical, mental and emotional health.