Is it possible to have a hangover for two days? Why do I have a hangover lasting this long? If you’re asking these questions, chances are you’re still struggling with the after-effects of your night out.
Hangovers lasting more than two days are a real thing and there are many different reasons why they could last this long.
You thought that going out on Friday or Saturday night would mean that by Monday, you’d be back to normal. But you’re still feeling rough on Monday!
If you’ve ever experienced a two day hangover, you’ll know all about the struggles it comes with.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at why hangovers can last two days (or more) and everything you can do to get rid of them.
More importantly, we’ll also go over the steps you can take to prevent a two day hangover from happening in the first place.
Can a hangover last two days?
So, can hangovers really last two days?
The simple answer to this question is, yes!
Hangovers are caused by drinking too much alcohol, too quickly. However, “a hangover” is experienced very differently by everyone. In fact, studies have shown there are at least 47 different symptoms of a hangover.
That’s why it’s not as simple as saying that all hangovers are the same.
Although it’s certainly unusual to have a hangover for more than 24 hours, it is possible. With that said, the symptoms experienced on the second day may be different to the first.(1)
Next up we’ll look at the two day hangover symptoms which are more likely to stay.
Two day hangover symptoms
If you’ve had a few too many drinks at happy hour, you’ll be all-too-familiar with the hangover symptoms you end up with.
Headache, nausea, vomiting, inability to focus, muscle aches, and feeling thirsty are just some of the most problematic symptoms.
When it comes to a two day hangover, the symptoms that are likely to drag on more than 24 hours include fatigue, anxiety and poor concentration.
If you’re feeling sick, nauseous, or vomiting into the second day of your hangover, it should prompt you to think of other causes which we will get into later.
So, with the basics out the way, let’s look at the causes of a two day hangover.
Causes of a two day hangover
Before we start this section, it’s important to highlight that hangovers, in general, are caused by drinking too much alcohol. You’re not going to get a two day hangover if you have a glass or two of wine with dinner.
Your liver is only able to metabolize (break down) alcohol at a certain rate. Typically, it’s around one drink per hour. Although, it varies greatly between individuals and factors such as your weight, age, and sex all make a difference. You can read more about this in our article about how long alcohol stays in your system.
The more alcohol you drink, the more damage caused by alcohol. And alcohol causes damage by the following mechanisms.
1) Dehydration: Alcohol causes dehydration by blocking a hormone called ADH. As a result, your kidneys flush out too much water.
2) Inflammation: When alcohol is metabolized in your liver, toxic by-products are formed which react with your cells causing inflammation.
3) Reduced sleep quality: Alcohol massively reduces sleep quality by preventing your brain from reaching the REM stage of sleep that’s essential to feel fully rested.
In summary, the science behind alcohol and hangovers is complicated and there are several different factors that come into play.
So, what makes a normal hangover turn into a two day hangover?
Well, there are a few additional factors that could be the reason for your two day hangovers which we will cover next.
1) You’re getting old
Remember in your early 20’s when hangovers lasted more like two hours rather than two days? As we all get older, our bodies are less adept to withstand the damaging effects of alcohol. In addition, your body’s reparative capacity is also significantly reduced as you get older.
There’s a very good reason why hangovers get worse with age. Your body is simply not as good at metabolizing alcohol and it’s byproducts, as well as repairing itself from the damage caused.
That’s why if you’re still drinking like you were in your early 20’s, you’re much more likely to get two day hangovers. And it’s probably a good time to start cutting back.
Congeners are the name given to the compounds in alcohol which give it it’s distinctive aroma and taste. They are naturally produced as a by-product of the fermentation and aging process of certain types of alcohol.
For example, red wine and whiskey have much higher concentrations of congeners compared to vodka. That’s because spirits like vodka are filtered/distilled to get rid of congeners.
Unfortunately, drinks which contain higher amounts of congeners have been shown in studies to make hangovers a lot worse.(2)
It’s because congeners are “biologically active” which means they react with your cells and have the potential to exacerbate inflammation.
If you’ve switched to drinking red wine, whiskey or bourbon all night, this could explain the reason for your two day hangover.
The effects of congeners can sometimes be delayed which is one of the reasons that people sometimes find they feel worse a day or two after drinking. You can read more about this in our article about delayed hangovers.
Prescribed medications are metabolized in your liver like alcohol is. Some can also interact with the enzymes involved in the breakdown of alcohol.
For example, medications for heartburn and even aspirin are known to inhibit alcohol dehydrogenase. This is the enzyme that breaks down alcohol and, therefore, these medications can increase your blood alcohol concentration.(3)(4)
So, the reason for your two day hangovers could be, in part, exacerbated by medication you take. If unsure, the best way around this issue is to not drink until you speak to your doctor for some advice.
4) Mental health
The reason some people drink and the consequences of excessive drinking are linked with mental health. Mental health problems not only result from drinking too much alcohol, they can also cause people to drink too much.
Put very simply, alcohol can often be used to temporarily alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression.
In some cases, two day hangovers can be as a result of the damaging effects alcohol has on mental health. Particularly if anxiety and low energy levels are the main symptoms being experienced.
Hangover anxiety is a real issue for many people and symptoms of it can easily continue into your week.
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How to get rid of a two day hangover
If you’re in the middle of a two day hangover, you’re probably trying to find out ways to get rid of it as soon as you can.
In most cases, all that’s required is more time and sleep for your body to recover. But if you’ve had a particularly big night out on the weekend, there are some things you can do to help you get rid of your two day hangover.
If you’ve been drinking all night and wake up with a hangover, exercise is the last thing your body needs. Exercise when “acutely” hungover only adds unnecessary pressure to your already battered body. That’s why we wouldn’t recommend going for a run when hungover.
However, once this phase has passed and you’re well into your two or three day hangover, it’s a good idea to get active. The reason being, exercise is well-known to boost your mood, energy levels and cognition. All of which may be exactly what you need to get you out of your two day hangover.(5)
The health benefits of practicing meditation, both mentally and physically, are profound. Several studies have shown that meditation has a real impact on overall wellbeing.(6)
If you’re struggling with the aftereffects of your two day hangover, meditation is a great way to help you feel more present. Especially if hangover-related anxiety is a problem.
3) Vitamins and minerals
Overindulgence in alcohol can increase your body’s requirement of certain vitamins and minerals. For example, vitamin B1 and B6 requirements are known to increase in alcohol excess.
In addition, alcohol can deplete minerals such as magnesium as well.
That’s why reloading with multivitamins and minerals could also help if you’ve got a two day hangover. With that said, if you have a healthy balanced diet, you won’t need to take any additional supplements.
Things to avoid
There are a few things you’ll want to avoid if you’re in the middle of a two day hangover that we’ll cover next.
1) More alcohol
Reaching for another drink to numb the effects of your hangover that’s pushed well into its second or third day is easy to do. Also known as hair of the dog, Or in this case a “delayed hair of the dog”, is not recommended.
More alcohol will just delay the inevitable crash that will come afterward. In which case your two day hangover may turn into a four day hangover if you’re not careful.
2) Late nights
Two day hangovers are often off the back of a big night out which almost always involves not going to bed until the early hours of the morning.
It’s easy to get stuck into a routine of sleeping late which wreaks havoc on your circadian rhythms. Making sure you regulate your sleep and go back into your normal routine is crucial for preventing a two day hangover.
3) Unhealthy food
We’ve all been there, craving greasy food when hungover is a standard thing. However, high-calorie unhealthy food can make you feel more lethargic and increase the chances of having a hangover lasting more than two days.
Other causes of a two day hangover
It’s easy to blame your two day hangover on the alcohol you drank over the weekend. But you should do so with caution.
The reason is, coming down in an illness like the flu can often mimic hangover symptoms. Furthermore, if you’re feeling sick or vomiting for a prolonged period of time, you should consider whether your symptoms are not directly related to alcohol. You could have easily picked up a stomach bug which may make you think you’ve got a two day hangover, when in actual fact it could be gastroenteritis (food poisoning).
As always, if unsure, make sure you speak to your doctor to get some advice.
Anything else to consider?
In most cases, a two day hangover is a sign from your body that you’ve had way too much alcohol for your body to handle. Looking for ways to get rid of your two day hangover is the wrong approach.
The best way to cure a two day hangover is to prevent it from happening in the first place. All that’s required is to drink less and at a much slower pace. Drinking plenty of water and eating a meal before going out is also important.
Two day hangovers – Final words
That brings us to the end of our look into two day hangovers.
We’ve walked you through the reasons why your hangover may last two days or even more in some cases. We’ve also gone through all the things you can do to get rid of a two day hangover if you’re unfortunate enough to be suffering with one right now.
Ultimately, two day hangovers are caused by drinking too much alcohol for your body to handle. If two day hangovers are becoming the norm for you, it’s a good sign that you should consider cutting back.