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Most adults have experienced a hangover at one point (or several) in their lifetimes. The dehydration caused by drinking too much alcohol can result in pounding headaches, crippling nausea, extreme thirst, vertigo, tremor, vomiting and even worse. Let’s commiserate with these facts about the morning after:
1. Hangovers are incredibly widespread: About 3 million people in the United States will develop a severe hangover each year. Most of these cases are mild in nature and can be self-diagnosed and treated at home using dimmed lights, Ibuprofen, Pepto-Bismol, and rehydration techniques.
2. The longest recorded hangover persisted for 4 weeks: In 2007, a man from Glascow, Scotland complained to doctors that he’d suffered “blurred vision and a persistent dull headache” for about a month. The patient had no idea what was wrong with him, but doctors confirmed that he’d indulged in 60 pints of beer during a 4-day period. (No wonder!)
3. Hangovers are expensive: The Atlantic reports that excessive drinking costs the U.S. economy more than $220 billion annually. This averages out to about $1.90 per alcoholic beverage. The costs (or at least 72% of them) stem from lowered workplace productivity.
4. The darker the liquor, the worse the hangover: This simple fact provides an excellent reason to always choose white tequila over the yellow variety. When considering other drinks — bourbon, red wine, and rum will often produce more intense hangovers than vodka, white wine, and vodka. The reason for this difference is that darker liquor contains greater concentrations of congeners, which humans metabolize into formaldehyde (poisonous stuff for sure).
5. Rich people enjoy fancier hangovers: The cheaper the liquor, the worse your hangover will probably feel in the morning. More expensive liquors often contain less congeners and are distilled with higher purity and fewer noxious additives.
5. Cigarettes can make your hangover worse: Did you need another reason to stop smoking? A 2012 study suggests that college students who smoked while drinking would report feeling worse the next day. Researchers aren’t sure why this is the case, but both alcohol and smoking disturb sleep patterns. Less sleep makes any ailment feel worse, and hangovers are no exception.
7. The bubblier the beverage, the greater the hangover: Gin and tonics, champagne, and beer can cause worse hangovers than a smoother drink like, say, vodka and orange juice. This happens because bubbly alcohol moves more quickly into the bloodstream (via the small intestine). Drinking extra water may help mitigate the effect.
8. Women tend to have worse hangovers than men: This unfortunate fact correlates with the lower water content of the female body. The higher percentage of muscle (which is made up of more water) on a male body insulates one from a hangover. A higher percentage of fat on a female body means the body has less water to dilute alcohol byproducts.
9. An Old West hangover cure: Cowboys on the range used to brew tea with rabbit droppings to make hangovers go away. In ancient Assyria, unfortunate souls tried to shake their hangovers with a mixture of myrrh and ground-up bird beaks. Those are both pretty hardcore attempts, and they probably didn’t work too well.
10. Some people never get hangovers: A lucky 20% of all adults never develop a hangover. These people are simply immune to next-day effects of too much alcohol.