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Updated on August 21, 2023
6 min read

How Long Does a Hangover Last?

Most hangover symptoms disappear independently after your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) drops significantly. However, it’s not unusual for the symptoms to last up to 24 hours.

According to a recent study, the average duration of an alcohol hangover is 18 hours after stopping drinking or 12 hours after waking up.4 However, several factors influence this timeline.

8 Factors That Determine How Long a Hangover Will Last 

The following factors will determine how long your hangover will last:

1. The Amount of Alcohol Consumed

Some people may have a hangover from just one alcoholic drink, while others can drink excessively and not get a hangover.

On average, the body processes one alcoholic drink per hour. Consuming many drinks in a short period increases the likelihood of a hangover after the effects of alcohol wear off.

2. Amount of Rest You Receive After Drinking

Although alcohol is known to induce sleep, it’s most likely to cause disrupted sleep.6 This makes you feel worse when you wake up, prolonging and worsening hangover symptoms.

3. Hydration Levels

The diuretic effects of alcohol can hinder kidney function, suppressing the production of the antidiuretic hormone (ADH). This hormone influences the kidneys to retain or release water.8

When ADH production is affected, you may experience a more frequent urge to urinate. If your hydration levels are low, it can lead to a headache or nausea, which characterize dehydration caused by alcohol consumption.

4. Drinking on An Empty Stomach

Alcohol is absorbed more slowly when food is in the stomach before you start drinking. Without food in your stomach, most of the alcohol finds its way into your blood quickly.

Drinking on an empty stomach may cause nausea or vomiting, so stop immediately and inform the person you’re with how you’re feeling.

5. Underlying Health Conditions

Some health conditions can influence the severity and duration of your hangover, including:

  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes9
  • Frequent migraine attacks10

According to a recent study, a person with type 1 diabetes will likely experience hypoglycemia after drinking alcohol.9 Hypoglycemia is a dangerous condition characterized by low blood sugar levels.

Frequent migraine attacks can also influence your hangover symptoms to last longer because alcohol is a common trigger.10

6. Age

Your body’s metabolism slows down as you age, affecting alcohol metabolism.

Your liver breaks down acetaldehyde, a common toxin and contributor to hangover symptoms. Then the body breaks it down further to non-toxic acetate for easy bodily elimination.

Since liver function slows down as we age, acetaldehyde tends to last longer in the system of older people. This results in prolonged hangovers.

7. Genetics

A study indicates that genes contribute to the ability to drink without experiencing the adverse effects of alcohol intoxication.10 However, people who show a reduced response to intoxication and those with considerable resistance to hangovers have a greater risk of dependency.

8. Certain Medications

Medications may make it difficult for your body to break down alcohol, making your hangover last longer.

Some drugs that affect the way your body processes alcohol include:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
  • Dopamine reuptake blockers
  • Antibiotics such as erythromycin, metronidazole, and cefoperazone
  • Anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines
  • Allergy medications such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), clemastine (Tavist), and chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton)

If you take any medications, always check with your healthcare provider before drinking alcohol to avoid negative interactions that may prolong your hangover.

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What are the Symptoms of a Hangover?

A hangover may showcase either mild or severe symptoms.3

The mild symptoms of a hangover include:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Thirst and dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Decreased/altered sleep
  • Sweating
  • Increased pulse and blood pressure
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Vertigo (feeling dizzy)

The severe symptoms of a hangover include:

  • Headaches and muscle aches
  • Increases sensitivity to sound
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Decreased attention
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Irritability

Are There Any Treatments For Hangovers? 

There are no instant hangover cures, but doctors recommend waiting at least 48 hours before drinking again to give your body time to recover. They recommend doing this for everyone, regardless of the presence of a hangover.

Aside from that, here are some remedies to ease hangover symptoms:

1. Stay hydrated

Drinking lots of fluids (preferably water) will help your body stay hydrated and ease the hangover symptoms.

2. Get enough sleep

Alcohol significantly affects sleep quality. Even if you fell asleep after drinking, the chances are that it was not restorative. If you wake up exhausted after a night of drinking, taking more time to rest your body will help ease the discomfort.

3. Eat something

A hangover may ruin your appetite, especially if it causes frequent visits to the bathroom. However, eating can help replenish lost electrolytes and settle your stomach. Consider foods like:

  • Eggs
  • Simple carbs
  • Soups
  • Fruits

4. Take pain relievers

An over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication may relieve hangover headaches and muscular pains. Take these medications with a meal to avoid stomach irritation or further harming your stressed liver.

5. Take supplements

Although the research is limited, several studies have shown that some supplements may help with hangover symptoms. Such supplements include:

  • Red ginseng
  • Borage oil
  • Ginger
  • Prickly pear
  • Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng)

6. Do some exercise

Gentle exercises are an excellent method to ease a terrible hangover because they will increase your alertness, and your body will release endorphins. These feel-good hormones can help alleviate some symptoms of a hangover.

Some gentle exercises you can do include:

  • Walking
  • Dynamic stretching
  • Cycling
  • Yoga
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How to Prevent a Hangover While Drinking 

The most effective way to prevent a hangover is to avoid drinking alcohol. However, if you have to drink, the following tips will help you avoid a hangover:

1. Limit your drinking

Limit how much you intend to drink and stick to it, no matter how much alcohol your friends consume.

2. Eat before you drink

The presence of food in the stomach reduces the rate of alcohol absorption into the blood. Slowing the rate of alcohol absorption will reduce the risk of a severe hangover.

3. Stick to one type of alcohol

Mixing different types of alcoholic beverages will increase your risk of severe hangovers.

4. Choose your alcohol wisely

Light-colored alcohols, such as vodka or white wine, have fewer congeners (hangover-causing toxins). The darker the drink, the worse the hangover.

5. Avoid smoking

Drinking and smoking at the same time increase the severity of a hangover.

6. Pace yourself

Consider alternating a non-alcoholic drink with each alcoholic beverage. It will give your body more time to digest the alcohol, reducing hangover symptoms.

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Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

The best way to prevent hangovers is to avoid drinking. If you find that you are unable to control your drinking, it is essential to seek help.

Several treatments for alcohol addiction are available. These include:

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment programs provide intensive therapy and medical care in a residential setting. You'll receive 24-hour care and support from medical professionals.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment programs provide counseling and therapy sessions on an outpatient basis. This means you can attend treatment sessions while living at home. These programs are often more flexible and less expensive than inpatient treatment.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps you identify and change unhealthy drinking behaviors. It also teaches you how to cope with cravings and manage stress.

Support Groups

Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) help you stay on track for recovery. They provide a safe and supportive environment to share your experiences with others struggling with alcohol addiction.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) 

MAT combines medication with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat alcohol addiction. Drugs such as naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram can help reduce cravings and prevent relapse.

Summary

Depending on different factors, a hangover usually lasts around 24 hours after drinking. There are various ways to relieve hangover symptoms. If you must drink, it's best to limit your alcohol intake. Treatment options are also available for those suffering from alcohol addiction.

Updated on August 21, 2023
10 sources cited
Updated on August 21, 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.
  1. Hangovers.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
  2. The Incidence and Severity of Hangover the Morning after Moderate Alcohol Intoxication.” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 2013.
  3. Hangovers,” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER).
  4. The Duration of the Alcohol Hangover.” Journal of Addiction Disorder and Rehabilitation, 2018.
  5. What Is A Standard Drink?” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
  6. Sleep after Heavy Alcohol Consumption and Physical Activity Levels during Alcohol Hangover.” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 2019.
  7. Alcohol’s Impact on Kidney Function.” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).
  8. The Effect of Evening Alcohol Consumption on Next-Morning Glucose Control in Type 1 Diabetes.” American Diabetes Association.
  9. Alcohol and Migraine.” American Migraine Foundation, 2016.
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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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