What is it about getting older that makes everything seem so much harder? Exercise gets harder. Sleep becomes more interrupted. Losing weight seems almost impossible. And recalling what’s on your to-do list definitely becomes a challenge. And then there are hangovers. Why do they become so much worse with age?
The next-day effects of a drinkfest can last for several hours as your body tries to rid itself of the martinis and margaritas you had the night before.
It’s normal to experience headaches, thirst, fatigue, dizziness, nausea and some other not-so-pleasant side effects after consuming alcohol.
These hangover symptoms do seem to get worse as you get older, partly because your metabolism slows down. And it’s this slowdown that really messes with your body.
Just a few years ago, you might’ve been able to drink whatever you wanted, and now, just looking at a glass of wine triggers a hangover headache. What gives?
“The liver is the body’s natural detox engine,” says Dr. Fred Pescatore. It processes and filters toxins like alcohol from the bloodstream. Pescatore says as we age, this process is not as efficient, and it takes longer to break down alcohol.
Since alcohol is metabolized more slowly and the toxins remain in your system longer, you experience more severe hangovers, explains Dr. Ehsan Ali. Consequently, we experience more severe symptoms like fatigue, headaches, nausea and dizziness.
And there’s the little issue of weight gain. If you’ve put on a few pounds with each passing birthday, there’s a good chance this increase in body fat is causing some of the problems. Fat cannot absorb alcohol, and the more body fat you have, the lower your tolerance of alcohol (and consequently, the higher the chances of a hangover).
So, what should you do to combat the effects of aging in regard to alcohol and hangovers?
While it’s not always a guarantee, there are some fairly common things you can do before and after drinking to help minimize the effects of a night out on the town.
The truth is, if you're going to drink and are of a certain age, chances are you're not going to feel great the next morning — but at least now you know it's not all in your head.
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