Here’s Why Hangovers Get So Much Worse With Age

It’s not just you.


In college the day after a blowout might have begun like this: some alka-seltzer or aspirin, strong coffee, and you were good to go. If those days are a fading memory a decade or two in the rear-view mirror, the morning after may feel more like you’ve been sledgehammered into submission and a sick day is in order. 

Turns out there are some pretty logical reasons hangovers don’t become more tolerable as we age. Put simply, aging human bodies simply lose the ability to shrug off the negative effects of over-consumption. UK lifestyle site JOE explains:

Why does alcohol affect the body so much?

Alcohol is a tiny molecule which travels to every part of the body. From the stomach and heart to the skin, it affects everything.

Thing is, our heart and stomach shrink in size as we age and as a result, alcohol is retained by the body for a longer period. Hence, the two or three day hangover. When you add this to the fact that we are more prone to dehydration as we get older, this also means that the alcohol is more concentrated and takes longer to break down.

How does alcohol affect the brain?

Alcohol is a depressant, everyone knows this and the affect is one of contrasts. The initial effects of alcohol are of a more stimulating nature in that they block out negative thoughts such as judgement or reasoning but over a longer period, these feelings are often translated to an increase of anxiety and/or depression.

Thankfully, many experts are encouraging the public to start resolving such issues with action; many insist that six months away from alcohol can reverse the effects entirely.

But wait, there’s more! Booze also does fun stuff to the skin — it can lead to stress acne and on the flip side dryness and dandruff-like flakes. Worse still, it can elevate risk of stroke or cardiac events, because heavy consumption can for an aging body cause reduced heart function and blood pressure issues. 

Guy with hangover
Feelin’ it.

Then there are the likely more well-known ugly side effects of having a shrunken liver if you overdo it on a regular basis and developing a gut because alcohol is empty calories.

That’s a lot of doom and gloom. If you’re reading this and your head is thumping and you just want to know how to make it stop, there are plenty of ways to do that, including Anthony Bourdain‘s simple “Aspirin, cold Coca Cola, smoke a joint, eat some spicy Szechuan food.”

Look into the Bourdain solution and worry about the other stuff after you recover. 

h/t JOE