By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — What happens to your body during a hangover?

“A hangover is a couple of things,” said Dr. Gavin Bart, an addiction medicine specialist at the Hennepin County Medical Center. “It’s basically a huge inflammatory response. So it’s kind of like having the flu.”

He says alcohol can release chemicals into a person’s body that cause headaches and nausea.

Dehydration is also plays a big role. Alcohol inhibits vasopressin, a hormone that helps people retain water.

“Alcohol is a bit of a diuretic,” said Dr. Bart. “People who are used to drinking alcohol notice that the days they drink, they’re often making those trips to the restrooms.”

How our body metabolizes alcohol has an impact as well. When the liver breaks down the alcohol, it creates an enzyme called acetaldehyde, which can lead to headaches and nausea.

All kinds of alcohol can cause hangovers, but research has shown the brown liquors can make a person slightly worse off.

Compounds called congeners, which are found in larger amounts in dark liquors, metabolize into toxins.

Carbonated alcohol, like champagne, can also worsen a hangover because the carbonation facilitates alcohol absorption. That tends to intoxicated people faster than non-carbonated beverages.

Dr. Bart says the only cure for a hangover is prevention; either not drinking or drinking in moderation. He says remedies like cold showers, caffeine or drinking more alcohol have not been shown to reduce the effects of hangovers.

Heather Brown