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Updated on July 31, 2023
6 min read

Why Can a Hangover Last for 2 Days?

Alyssa Hill
Dr P. E. Pancoast, MD
Written by 
9 Sources Cited
Alyssa Hill
Written by 
9 Sources Cited

Consuming alcoholic beverages is an enjoyable pastime for many, but it can also have lasting repercussions, like a two-day hangover.

A two-day hangover is essentially what it sounds like—a hangover lasting longer than the typical 24 hours. Various factors can cause it, so drinking responsibly, knowing the factors, employing preventative strategies, and seeking treatment can make the experience less frustrating.

Is It Possible to Have a Two-Day Hangover?

Yes, it's possible to have a two-day hangover. 

Aside from poor alcohol management, the following can contribute to prolonged hangover symptoms and cause a self-induced harmful cycle:1

prolonged hangover symptoms causes 2
  • Decreased water intake
  • Over-consumption of alcohol
  • Mixing drinks
  • Drinking for two or more consecutive nights
  • Neglecting quality sleep after a night out
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What Causes a Two-Day Hangover?

Dehydration

Dehydration is a significant factor in experiencing a two-day hangover. Alcohol inhibits the production of vasopressin, a hormone that tells the kidneys to hold onto fluids.2

The lack of vasopressin leads to increased urination and fluid loss, resulting in headaches, fatigue, and thirst.

Alcohol's Effect on the Stomach

Alcohol can cause irritation and damage to the stomach lining, leading to a range of uncomfortable symptoms, such as:3

  • A feeling of fullness
  • Flatulence
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

Additionally, alcohol can decrease appetite and increase acid release, further contributing to gastrointestinal tract distress.

Inflammatory Response

When you drink alcohol—a toxin— your body naturally responds to it with inflammation. Higher levels of inflammatory biomarkers make a hangover worse. 

Inflammatory mediators, such as IL-6, TNF-α, and CRP, and oxidative stress biomarkers increase immediately after consuming alcohol and stay elevated for over 12 hours. The elevated inflammatory response in your body causes these hangover symptoms:4

  • Dry eyes
  • Headache
  • Watery eyes
  • Brain fog
  • Fatigue
  • Runny nose
  • Apathy

What are the Symptoms of a Two-Day Hangover?

symptoms two day hangover 2

The symptoms of a two-day hangover can vary from person to person. However, they're the same as those you'd experience after a typical 24-hour hangover. These side effects include:2

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Weakness
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Muscle aches
  • Sensitivity to sound and light
  • Vertigo
  • Sweating
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How Can You Recover from a Two-Day Hangover?

There's no scientifically proven hangover cure; the only true solution is time. The body needs to naturally eliminate the toxic byproducts of alcohol, return immune and brain function to normal, and heal damaged tissues.2

But if you've already overindulged, these remedies can help:5

  • Rehydrate: Drinking water or electrolyte-rich beverages like coconut water helps rehydrate your body and restore electrolytes. Other people also turn to IV therapy to quickly rehydrate.
  • Rest: Get plenty of rest and ensure sleep quality whenever possible. Take a nap, dim the lights, or use an eye mask to reduce light exposure.
  • Eat: Eating foods high in complex carbohydrates and electrolytes can help replenish energy stores and restore lost nutrients. Examples include eggs, nuts, apples, bananas, yogurt, and oats.
  • Avoid caffeine: Caffeine can dehydrate and further irritate your stomach, so avoiding coffee and other caffeinated drinks during a two-day hangover is best.
  • Treat nausea: Ginger or peppermint tea can help ease nausea, which also helps reduce inflammation.
  • Take pain relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and aspirin can help reduce headaches, nausea, and muscle aches. However, they can increase acidity in the stomach, so stay cautious when taking them.
  • Avoid alcohol: The best way to recover from a two-day hangover is to practice prevention. You can do this by drinking responsibly and refraining from alcohol for a few days.
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Is It Normal to Feel Drunk Two Days After Drinking?

Yes, it's normal to feel drunk two days after drinking. Alcohol can stay in your system for up to 24 hours, and the effects of a bad hangover can last for up to 48 hours, especially if you drink on an empty stomach.

However, if you experience any of the following prolonged severe symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:6

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Blue or pale skin
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Hypothermia
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty remaining awake

Does a Two-Day Hangover Indicate a Bigger Problem?

Alcohol Use Disorders (AUD)

Research suggests that the severity of hangovers increases when they occur more frequently, potentially indicating a heightened risk for future AUD.7 Sensitization or reverse tolerance to this aspect of alcohol consumption may drive this.

This finding requires further investigation to fully understand the link between hangover frequency and severity for preventing AUD.

Are Hangovers Worse with Liver Damage?

Yes, hangovers can be worse with liver damage. When heavy drinking damages the liver over time, it can't metabolize alcohol as quickly. This change causes more toxins to build up in the body, which can lead to longer-lasting and more severe symptoms of a hangover.

In addition, alcohol can interfere with the absorption of nutrients from foods and cause deficiencies related to thiamine, folate, and vitamin B12.8 These deficiencies can also contribute to prolonged hangover symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long is Too Long for a Hangover?

It depends on the person and how much alcohol they consume. Generally, a hangover shouldn't last longer than 24 hours. However, more severe hangovers can last up to 72 hours.

If your hangover lasts beyond this, it may indicate an underlying health issue or alcohol use disorder. You should discuss it with a doctor as soon as possible.

How Do You Remove Alcohol from Your Body?

Alcohol heads straight to the liver after leaving the gastrointestinal tract. It travels through capillaries surrounding the stomach and intestines, leading to the liver via the portal vein.

Once inside the liver, ethanol diffuses into the hepatic cells, where enzymes work to convert it into inactive metabolites. This process, known as metabolism, detoxifies the ethanol and prevents bodily harm.9

​​To support metabolism, follow the tips on recovering from a two-day hangover mentioned earlier, such as drinking plenty of water and getting proper rest.

Can Hangover Anxiety Last Two Days?

Yes, especially if you consumed a substantial amount of alcohol. As your blood alcohol concentration plummets, your brain undergoes sweeping modifications in certain neurotransmitter levels. 

Alcohol imitates gamma-aminobutyric acid's (GABA) effects, which induces a sense of decreased inhibition. This reaction corresponds to the amiable and relaxed mood you may feel when you drink alcohol. However, these consequences overturn during a hangover, resulting in a surge in anxiety.1

Summary

A two-day hangover can be uncomfortable, but it's not necessarily an indication of a bigger problem. Hangovers occur when the body needs time to process and detoxify alcohol. Eating foods high in complex carbohydrates and electrolytes, taking pain relievers, and drinking plenty of water can all help recovery.

However, seek medical attention if your hangover lasts more than 48 hours and you experience severe symptoms or difficulty controlling your drinking.

Remember, the best way to avoid a two-day hangover is to prevent it by drinking responsibly.

Updated on July 31, 2023
9 sources cited
Updated on July 31, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
    Sources
  1. Canavan, C. “2-day hangovers: are they real and what the hell is going on in your body?” Women’s Health, 2023.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Hangovers.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2021.
  3. Bode et al. “Alcohol’s Role in Gastrointestinal Tract Disorders.” Alcohol Health and Research World, 1997.
  4. Iversen, J. “Connecting the Dots: Alcohol Hangover, Inflammation, and Aging.” Pharmacy Times, 2023.
  5. LeWine, H. (Ed.). “7 steps to cure your hangover.” Harvard Health Publishing, 2023.
  6. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. “Hangovers.” Mayo Clinic, 2017.
  7. Verster et al. “The Association between Alcohol Hangover Frequency and Severity: Evidence for Reverse Tolerance?” Journal of Clinical Medicine, 2019.
  8. Firth et al. “How Alcohol Affects You.” University of California San Diego, n.d.
  9. Duke University. “How is Alcohol Eliminated from the Body?” The Alcohol Pharmacology Education Partnership, n.d.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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