Why do we get a hangover and how to avoid one
While most people know that a hangover will slow you down, many people are not aware of the dangerous effects alcohol can have on a worker’s ability on the tools the following day.
Typically, the after effects of alcohol can last anywhere between eight and 24 hours – a sobering thought for anyone operating machinery or working on site following on from a boozy session.
Those after effects can include dizziness, nausea, lethargy and problems concentrating, head, body and muscle aches, depression, vomiting and erratic muscle function.
Many of these symptoms can be largely attributed to severe dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance caused as our bodies move into recovery mode and attempt to remove alcoholic toxins from our systems.
Dehydration is already a serious issue on Australian worksites with remaining hydrated while working in hot, harsh conditions already a challenge. Drinking alcohol the night before will only exacerbate this issue.
Observing alcohol consumption guidelines will help. The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends that men and women consume no more than two “standard” drinks per day (your average bottle of beer is around 1.5 standard drinks) to reduce lifetime risk of harm and four “standard” drinks on any single occasion to “reduce the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion”.
However even this is likely to result in reduced cognitive function even if the more severe symptoms such as headache and nausea are not present.
Why alcohol causes dehydration
Alcohol is metabolised in the liver, which produces enzymes to break it down before it is absorbed by the cells. However, the liver can only break down a limited amount of alcohol per hour (approximately one bottle of beer or about 150ml of wine), so excess alcohol accumulates in our bodies and leads to side effects such as sweating, contributing to dehydration.
Alcohol also inhibits our ability to produce the anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), which helps the kidneys manage the amount of water in your body. When ADH levels drop, our kidneys are affected and the body produces more urine leading to further loss of fluids from our system.
This increased urination also depletes the levels of electrolytes in our bodies, including sodium, magnesium and potassium which can lead to an electrolyte imbalance which has been linked to other hangover symptoms such as headaches, nausea and body aches.
Sodium is an essential mineral necessary to maintain blood pressure and normal fluid balance in the body, while potassium and magnesium build protein and muscle mass and improve the function of the heart.
Preventing or Reducing the Hangover:
Given a hangover is largely caused by dehydration, if you are drinking more than a couple of standard drinks, alternating alcoholic beverages with water throughout the evening should help to reduce the damage.
Additionally, an electrolyte solution such as THORZT can work to counteract the negative effects of alcohol.
THORZT’s blend of electrolytes and amino acids has been formulated to offer optimum hydration and replaces lost minerals, helping to restore normal function to the body.
Importantly workers should be trained on the importance of hydration at work and the causes, signs, symptoms and dangers of dehydration, including alcohol consumption.