A hangover is the set of unpleasant effects of excessive alcohol consumption and typically has the following symptoms:

Scientific researchers have largely neglected the topic of alcohol hangover.* There is no theoretical model explaining the pathology of hangovers and no effective animal model. Thus, hangovers are poorly understood.

Current scientific evidence suggests that the primary causes of a hangover are:

  • The direct toxic effects of alcohol.
  • The toxic effects of compounds produced by the metabolism of alcohol, especially acetaldehyde and acetate.
  • An imbalance in the immune system after excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Congeners (substances present in alcoholic beverages, which are either naturally-occurring or added during production), particularly methanol, may aggravate the severity of a hangover.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the economy suffers about $161 billion a year in lost productivity from people who are too hung over to do their jobs.

*Penning, R., M. van Nuland, L. A. Fliervoet, B. Olivier, and J. C. Verster. "The pathology of alcohol hangover." Current drug abuse reviews 3, no. 2 (2010): 68.

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