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Updated on December 10, 2022
6 min read

Can a Hangover Cause a Fever?

Connection Between Fevers and Hangovers

A hangover can happen after heavy drinking. It occurs when your body finishes processing the alcohol and your blood alcohol level drops to zero.13

A hangover is accompanied by unpleasant mental and physical symptoms.19 Hangover symptoms vary from person to person.

A hangover can raise body temperature and cause fever. However, it is not common. If you develop a fever while fighting off a hangover, it is important to rest and drink plenty of water. 

If your fever climbs or does not subside over time, contact your doctor. While a low-grade fever is not a cause for concern, it can become dangerous if it gets too high.


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Top 4 Causes of Hangover Fevers

There are several reasons why you might develop a fever with a hangover. Some are more serious than others.

Here are four of the top causes of hangover fevers:

1. Immune system response

Drinking alcohol takes a toll on your immune system.

About two hours after you drink alcohol, your body’s pro-inflammatory cytokine levels rise. This promotes an inflammatory response, which can intensify a hangover.5

An inflammatory immune system response can also trigger a fever. 

These are closely related bodily responses.5

2. Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia refers to very low blood sugar. It occurs when your blood sugar levels have fallen below 70 mg/dL.11

Alcohol affects your blood sugar levels because it increases your body’s insulin secretion. This leads to low blood sugar. Extremely low blood sugar levels cause serious problems and can appear to be a stroke or brain injury. But, it is usually readily reversed by adding glucose to the bloodstream.

Low blood sugar is a common hangover symptom. And a fever is a potential symptom of low blood sugar, especially if your blood sugar drops significantly.12

3. Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a medical emergency. It happens when your body loses heat more quickly than it produces it. Your body temperature drops significantly—and it can happen fast.

About 40 percent of patients with hypothermia develop a fever when their body temperature rises again.7

Drinking alcohol can cause a hangover, which may induce hypothermia. This is because alcohol causes vasodilation—flushing and a warm sensation. Alcohol also increases radiation and heat loss.

Vasodilation can make you feel warm because the blood is flowing through the skin where your temperature receptors are. But, having excessive blood flow through the skin causes you to lose body heat, and your core body temperature (the measurement of body temperature inside the body) may fall.

4. Severe dehydration

The most common hangover symptom is dehydration. Alcohol makes you sweat more, urinate more, and may even make you vomit. All of these factors can cause dehydration.

In turn, dehydration can bring on a fever. When your body does not have enough fluids, it is difficult to regulate temperature.20

How to Prevent Fevers After Drinking Alcohol

There are several steps you can take to prevent a hangover fever:

  1. Drink water while drinking. Water can help regulate temperature and blood alcohol content (BAC) levels. Drinking water can also help alleviate inflammation by increasing blood flow throughout the body.
  2. Pace yourself. Your body needs adequate time to break down the alcohol. Be mindful of how much alcohol you are consuming, and slow down.
  3. Avoid drinks high in congeners. Certain drinks can lead to worse hangovers. High congeners can exacerbate hangovers.4.
  4. Drink in moderation. Refers to no more than two drinks per day for men. For women, it means no more than one drink per day.
  5. Don’t drink. The best way to avoid a hangover fever is to not drink alcohol in the first place.

A standard drink equals 14 grams of pure alcohol:2

  • 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content)
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content)
  • 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content)
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor (40% alcohol content)
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How to Treat Hangover-Induced Fevers 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for a hangover.10 However, there are a few ways you can treat a hangover-induced fever.1

The best way to treat a hangover-induced fever is by drinking a lot of water and getting some rest. Staying hydrated helps regulate your body temperature.8

The only real way to cure a hangover is to give it time. Make sure that you relax so your body has a chance to heal.8

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What to Avoid if You Have a Hangover Fever

If you have a hangover fever, you should avoid the following:3

  • Caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea
  • Sports energy drinks that are high in sugar
  • Food or drinks that are high in sugar
  • Greasy foods

Other Side Effects of Hangovers

Hangovers can be brutal. They come on when alcohol metabolism is finished. And when they do, they can affect your physical and mental health. 

Hangovers can also severely impact your productivity and performance at work or school.

Common Side Effects

Hangovers symptoms include:9

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Poor sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Skin flushing
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • A sense of the room spinning
  • Liver pain
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability 
  • Mood disturbance
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Memory problems
  • Decreased interest in usual activities
  • Rapid heart rate

Other Flu-Like Symptoms

Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to worse hangovers that feel like the flu. 

Other flu-like symptoms of fevers include:10

  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Chills
  • Shakiness
  • Lack of energy
  • Gastrointestinal problems

If your hangover is really bad, you may have run down your body. A hangover can escalate into sickness if your immune system is really weak.

If you develop flu-like symptoms with a hangover, more rest is important. You need to give your body a chance to recuperate.

When Should You See a Doctor?

Fevers usually subside on their own after some time and rest. They are not typically a cause for concern or life-threatening.

However, if your fever reaches over 101 F (38.3 C) and you are not otherwise ill (no recent flu or other sicknesses), you should call your doctor. If you experience severe symptoms, you should also seek medical attention.6

If your symptoms do not resolve within a day or two, you may have gotten sick from a weakened immune system. In this case, your doctor can help treat your illness.

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have alcohol poisoning, seek emergency medical attention. Alcohol overdose is a medical emergency.

Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

An alcohol overdose can lead to severe health complications and cause death. Do not try to help a person with alcohol poisoning on your own.16

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • No gag reflex
  • Loss of consciousness or difficulty remaining conscious
  • Mental stupor
  • Seizures
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Slow heart rate
  • Clammy or pale skin
  • Low body temperature
  • Dulled responses

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol abuse, seek professional help. Alcohol abuse can cause a lot more than a bad hangover. Alcoholism claims lives.

Treatment is available. Check out alcohol inpatient and outpatient rehab facilities in your area. Or talk to your doctor about medical treatment and mental health options available to you. 
Support groups can also help. You do not have to go down the road to recovery alone.

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Updated on December 10, 2022
17 sources cited
Updated on December 10, 2022
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.
  1. 7 Steps to Cure Your Hangover.” Harvard Health, 2020.
  2. Alcohol Questions and Answers.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021.
  3. Vavrek, K. “Foods to Avoid When You Have the Flu.” Ohio State Medical Center, 2019.
  4. Hangover Prevention.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2017.
  5. Evans, S., et al. “Fever and the Thermal Regulation of Immunity: The Immune System Feels the Heat.” Nature Reviews. Immunology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2015.
  6. Fever.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2020.
  7. Liebl, C., et al. “Systematic review about complementary medical hyperthermia in oncology.” Clinical and experimental medicine, 2022.
  8. Hangover Treatment: Medlineplus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  9. Hangovers.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2017.
  10. Hangovers.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  11. Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar).” Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Glucose) | ADA.
  12. Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021.
  13. Mackus, M., et al. “Proceeding of the 8th Alcohol Hangover Research Group Meeting.” Current Drug Abuse Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2016.
  14. Pereira, Flávia Helena, et al. “Correlation between Body Temperature, Blood Pressure and Plasmatic Nitric Oxide in Septic Patients.” Revista Latino-Americana De Enfermagem, Escola De Enfermagem De Ribeirão Preto / Universidade De São Paulo, 2014.
  15. Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Overdose.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  16. van de Loo, Aurora J A E, et al. “Susceptibility to Alcohol Hangovers: The Association with Self-Reported Immune Status.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, MDPI, 2018.
  17. Verster, Joris C, et al. “Updating the Definition of the Alcohol Hangover.” Journal of Clinical Medicine, MDPI, 2020.

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