Researchers Have Bad News for People Experiencing Hangovers

The age-old folk aphorism, “Beer before wine and you’ll feel fine; wine before beer and you’ll feel queer” was recently dispelled by a team of European researchers. The team conducted a study to examine if a particular order of drinking alcoholic beverages helped experience less severe hangover. However, for the 76 percent Americans, who experience hangovers after a drinking session, the researchers have bad news. According to their study, no matter how much an individual tries altering the order in which they drink different alcoholic beverages, they would still face a hangover, if they drink too much.

Difference in order of drinking does not affect severity of hangover

In order to figure out a way of helping people facing hangovers, the researchers, as part of this study, recruited 90 German individuals in the age group of 19 to 40 years to consume alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer, or both. After randomly dividing the participants in three groups, the researchers asked the first group to consume 16 ounces of lager beer. After this they were asked to drink four large glasses of white wine. The second group was asked to initially drink the four glasses of white wine. After that, they were asked to consume two and half pints of lager beer. The third group was made to drink either white wine or lager beer. All the three groups were medically supervised overnight.

The researchers waited till the alcohol hangover effects faded out completely and everyone recovered fully. The following week, the scientists re-gathered everyone for a second round of drinking. They made the groups drink in the exact opposite order of what was followed last time. For instance, the group that drank beer first, was made to drink wine first this time and the group that drank wine was made to drink beer first instead. The third group who drank either of the two (beer or wine) were made to drink what they did not consume last time.

The results of the study displayed no differentiation in terms of hangover intensity caused by drinking either of the alcoholic beverages – beer or wine – in any particular order. Lead author, Joran Kochling, a researcher at the Witten/Herdecke University, said that the study ruled out the old folk saying that if an individual drinks beer before drinking wine, it gives the person a less severe hangover.

Vomiting and perceived drunkenness associated with severe hangover

Even after controlling for factors such as age, gender, body weight, frequency of hangovers, and drinking habits, no substantial difference was found in the hangover scores. It was observed that women suffered a severer hangover compared to men. Blood and urine tests were also conducted to predict the intensity of hangover, but with no success.

However, there were two factors that did seem to impact the intensity of hangover symptoms the following day. These included the level of headiness people experienced at the time of drinking and if they puked. The individuals who scored higher on a scale of 1 to 10 on how drunk they felt towards the end of the drinking spree and those individuals who puked while or after drinking, rated their hangovers as severe.

Pay attention to red flags while drinking

According to Kochling, the truth is that drinking too much of any kind of alcoholic beverage is likely to result in a hangover. He said that the only way of predicting how bad the hangover is going to be, is to realize how drunk one feels and whether one feels sick. He added that every individual needs to be aware of these warning flags while drinking. If people ignore these red flags at the time of drinking, dehydration, tiredness, headaches, light sensitivity, and gut issues, in the form of a hangover, would follow the next day.

Even though the quantity of drinks that lead to a hangover varies from one individual to another, a hangover means that an individual has far exceeded the permissible limit laid down by their bodies and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as moderate drinking. The CDC considers one drink per day for women and two drinks a day for men as moderate drinking.

Hangovers nature’s way to mold future behavior

The researchers acknowledged that this study has its own restrictions. For instance, they were unable to allocate a control group to consume a non-alcoholic beverage, as the participants were not keen on being a part of group that did not drink alcohol.

Co-author Dr. Kai Hensel, a senior clinical fellow at the University of Cambridge said that even though hangovers are unpleasant, they do have one significant benefit. They act as a shield that would probably guide people over time, to alter their future drinking behavior.

Seeking help for alcoholism

It is possible for anyone to get affected by alcohol addiction, irrespective of age, gender, or social standing. One of the stepping stones for effective recovery from alcoholism is detoxification. The process of detoxification helps the body get rid of all the toxins accumulated in the body as a result of years of alcohol abuse, manage the withdrawal symptoms, and prepare the body and the mind for alcohol addiction treatment.


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