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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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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:
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
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
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.
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
There are several steps you can take to prevent a hangover fever:
A standard drink equals 14 grams of pure alcohol:2
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
If you have a hangover fever, you should avoid the following:3
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.
Hangovers symptoms include:9
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to worse hangovers that feel like the flu.
Other flu-like symptoms of fevers include:10
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.
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.
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:
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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