symptoms of a hangover

Evidence based

47 Symptoms of a Hangover

Afterdrink Author Dewey Jhon
Dewey Jhon


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  1. This article is based on currently available scientific evidence at the time of writing and fact checked.
  2. All referenced studies and research papers are from reputable and relevant peer-reviewed journals or academic associations.
  3. Some peer-reviewed papers have stronger study designs and are more robust in terms of quality and reliability. We will make every effort to highlight weak evidence.
  4. This article contains scientific references. The numbers in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.
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Evidence based

If you’ve ever experienced a bad hangover, you’ll know the symptoms can be debilitating.

Hangover symptoms start when your blood alcohol levels reach zero after a night of drinking.

They affect everyone differently and up to 10% of people report that they don’t get them at all.

However, for the rest of us, hangover symptoms can be a real problem that takes away a big chunk of our day.

Table of contents

Study About Hangover Symptoms

A study carried out by R.Penning and co did research into all the hangover symptoms reported by 1420 Dutch students.

47 different symptoms were reported.

Interestingly, they then ranked every symptom by combining how common and severe they were, which is what we’re going to share with you next.

The most common and severe symptoms will be listed in descending order.

47 Symptoms of a Hangover

1. Fatigue (reported by 96%)
Fatigue ranked number one in the study and the people polled felt this was the most severe consequence of their hangovers.

Alcohol is usually associated with late nights, dancing and poor sleep. In addition, alcohol metabolism produces toxic by-products which cause free-radical damage and inflammation.


2. Thirst (Reported by 89%)
Alcohol increases the amount of urine you produce by blocking a hormone in the brain which is responsible for holding water inside your bloodstream. As a result, water is lost from your kidneys which makes you dehydrated.

In fact, for every pint of beer (approximately 500ml), you’ll lose an extra 180ml of water.

This explains why dehydration and thirst is one of the most reported hangover symptoms.

3. Drowsiness (Reported by 88%)
Drowsiness by definition means feeling abnormally sleepy during the day. Its probably expected that it ranks so highly as it’s closely linked to how fatigues you’re feeling.

4. Sleepiness (Reported by 87%)
We feel that sleepiness and drowsiness probably mean the same thing although in this study they separated the two out. It’s probably why the number of people who reported this hangover symptom is almost identical anyway.

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5. Headache (Reported by 87%)
Hangover headaches can really get in the way of you getting on with your day. For some people who already suffer from tension headaches or migraines, it can be particularly severe.

We’ve covered all the causes of hangover headache in a separate article if you’re interested to find out more.

6. Dry mouth (Reported by 83%)
Linked to dehydration, dry mouth and associated bad breath go hand in hand.

7. Nausea Reported by 81%
Arguably one of the worst symptoms of a hangover, nausea is one of the hangover symptoms you’ll probably want to get rid of first. Sipping on ginger tea could help as it’s a natural anti-sickness remedy.

8. Weakness (Reported by 80%)
You’ll know this hangover symptom very well. Sometimes even trying to get out of bed can be a challenge.

9. Reduced alertness (Reported by 78%)
Again tied in with fatigue, you’re unlikely to be as alert when hungover.

10. Concentration problems (Reported by 78%)
Also known as “brain fog”, concentrating when hungover can be a real struggle. We’ve all been there hungover at work where our productivity levels are non-existent.


11. Apathy (lack of interest / concern) (Reported by 74%)
Give a S***? Not when you’re hungover…

12. Increased reaction time (Reported by 74%)
In otherwise, being much slower to react to things. There are several studies that have shown that reaction times when hungover is much slower which is a big problem if you need to be on top form the day after drinking alcohol.

13. Reduced appetite Reported by 62%
Combine reduced appetite with feeling nauseous and you’ll really not want to eat anything. If this is the case, sipping on a sugary drink can help get some calories in you.

14. Clumsiness (Reported by 51%)
How many times have you dropped a plate or walked into a wall when hungover?

15. Agitation (Reported by 50%)
“Hangry” usually refers to being angry when hungry. However, we fill it has a place when hungover too.

16. Vertigo (Reported by 48%)
Vertigo describes the sensation of spinning. This can either mean you feel the room is spinning or you are spinning in the room. Either way, it’s not a very nice feeling and can lead to falls or accidents.

17. Memory problems (Reported by 48%)
For some, forgetting what happened the night before is a common occurrence. It usually happens when binge drinking and is a sign that you’re drinking too much.

Your memory can also be affected when hungover. Ever struggled to remember where you put your keys or where you filed that important document after a night out?

18. Gastrointestinal complaints (Reported by 47%)
By gastrointestinal complaints they mean diarrhea. Alcohol poops are a well-known phenomenon and can be one of the more embarrassing hangover symptoms to have to deal with.

19. Dizziness (Reported by 46%)
Dizziness means something different to everyone. It encompasses vertigo but it can also mean the sensation of feeling light-headed.

20. Stomach pain (Reported by 45%)
Alcohol is an irritant and causes inflammation of the stomach lining which can cause stomach pains and aches.

21. Tremor (Reported by 39%)
Alcohol shakes usually occur if you’ve been drinking excessively. We cover all the causes of hangover shakes in another comprehensive article.

22. Balance problems (Reported by 39%)
If you’re suffering from dizziness or vertigo, it can have an impact on your balance.

23. Restlessness (Reported by 37%)
This hangover symptom ties in with agitation. Feeling restless and easy is caused by “alcohols rebound effect”. When you drink, your nervous system is suppressed because alcohol slows everything down.

Once the alcohol has left your bloodstream, your nervous system snaps back into action and is over-stimulated caused restlessness among other hangover symptoms we will cover below.

24. Shivering (Reported by 34%)
Not one of the most common hangover symptoms, some people reported shivering. Perhaps they meant the shakes?

25. Sweating (Reported by 34%)
Alcohol disrups your bodys temperature regulation because it dilate blood vessels which can cause sweating.

26. Disorientation (Reported by 34%)
Waking up thinking where am I? how did I get here? Yep, more signs of binge drinking. You wouldn’t normally experience disorientation with a mild hangover.

27. Audio-sensitivity (Reported by 33%)
This means increased sensitivity to sound. Loud music is the last thing you want to hear when hungover.

28. Photo-sensitivity (Reported by 33%)
You guessed it, this means increased sensitivity to light. Close those curtains!

29. Blunted affect (Reported by 30%)
Affect is another word for feelings or emotions. When hungover, a third of respondents reported feeling that they were not interested in anything.


30. Muscle pain (Reported by 29%)
A big night out usually involves hours of dancing and most of the aches and pains are as a by-product of this. Alcohols toxic waste products can also cause muscle inflammation which leaves you with sore body aches.

31. Loss of taste (Reported by 28%)
Probably because you’ve burned your taste buds with the spirits you were drinking the night before.


32. Regret (Reported by 27%)
This point needs to introduction. We’ve all been there after a night of drinking feeling full of regret from the things we did or said the night before.

Luckily, on most occasions, the people you were with probably don’t remember half of them so it all works out OK in the end.

33. Confusion (Reported by 26%)
Confusion is probably the worst just after you’ve woken up but things usually start to clear after a few hours.

34. Guilt (Reported by 25%)
Guilt would usually imply you’ve done something wrong but I guess it could be linked to feelings of regret.

35. Gastritis (Reported by 23%)
Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining. It occurs after drinking alcohol as it increases stomach acid production. Studies have shown that this is particularly the case with drinks that contain lower alcohol concentrations like beer for example.

36. Impulsivity (Reported by 23%)
How many bad decisions have you made when hungover? Give it some time and reasses.

37. Hot / cold flushes (Reported by 21%)
Probably one of the more annoying hangover symptoms, dysregulation of your bodies temperature control leads to hot and cold flushes.

38. Vomiting (Reported by 21%)
81% of people reported nausea and 21% vomiting. It’s a real problem when hungover and some people experience this symptom after having even small amounts of alcohol.

39. Heart pounding (Reported by 19%)
This is different from palpitations and describes the sensation of forceful heart contractions. It could be secondary to dehydration as your heart tries to pump harder to supply your body with essential nutrients.

40. Depression (Reported by 19%)
Hangovers are often associated with low mood and anxiety and can be attributed to alcohols rebound effect as explained earlier. If you’re someone who already suffers from low mood, alcohol can significantly worsen symptoms as is best to avoid.

41. Palpitations (Reported by 17%)
Alcohol is known to cause a fast heart rate and in some cases can lead to arrhythmias. Scientists are still not sure exactly how alcohol causes palpitations however it’s thought to be secondary to its direct toxic effect on heart cells as well as electrolyte imbalance.

42. Tinnitus (Reported by 17%)
Tinnitus was reported by some which is a ringing in the ears. This is probably because of loud music from the night before and should.

43. Nystagmus (Reported by 16%)
Nystagmus is when the eyes flick side to side. It can be worsened by feelings of dizziness. It does, however, resolve with time.

44. Anger (Reported by 10%)
Perhaps this is related to the something that happened the night before?

45. Respiratory problems (Reported by 10%)
In some people, alcohol can trigger breathing difficulty. This is usually the case if you’re allergic to some of the compounds found in your alcoholic drink. In people with asthma, alcohol can also trigger wheeze which is thought to be related to the release of histamine from the by-products produced from alcohol metabolism.

46. Anxiety (Reported by 7%)
Anxiety and depression are distinct symptoms however they often come together. Initially, drinking alcohol will settle anxious nerves however, in the long run, it’ll make anxiety a lot worse.

47. Suicidal thoughts (Reported by 2%)
2% of people in the study reported suicidal thoughts when hungover. You should speak to someone around you or a medical professional if you experience this.

How long do hangover symptoms last?

In your early 20’s, you probably didn’t even get much of a hangover right?

As we get older hangovers tend to last a lot longer with more severe symptoms. Your body is less well adapted to cope with the stresses of a big night out and it’s just a natural truth about life.

When you reach your 30’s and beyond, hangover symptoms can last up to 24 hours and in some cases even longer.

At the end of the day, everyone is unique and will naturally experience hangover symptoms differently to each other.


Anything else to consider?

Hangovers are a sign by your body that you’ve overdone it. It shows that the alcohol you consumed was too much for your liver to process safely which leads to damaging consequences, all of which present themselves as the hangover symptoms listed above.

If you experience severe hangover symptoms on a regular basis, it’s probably a good time to consider cutting down on your alcohol intake.

That being said, there are loads of things you can do before, during and after your night out to prevent the worst hangover symptoms.

Final Words

That brings us to the end of our list of hangover symptoms. We’ve presented the list in order of most to least common, based on a study on Dutch students.

We’ve also given short explanations of the science behind why you may be experiencing these hangover symptoms.

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