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30th Dec 2016

This is why hangovers get so much worse the older you get

It's not just your imagination.


For anyone who realises they can’t manage two, let alone four, nights out in a row, this goes out to you.

This is the time of the year when the nation collectively overindulges and alcohol is no exception. But if it seems like you’re struggling with the aftermath this year more than before, it’s not just your imagination.

So why does it seem to affect us so much more as we get older and why are those dreadful hangovers now lasting for days at a time?

Why does alcohol affect the body so much?

Alcohol is a tiny molecule which travels to every part of the body. From the stomach and heart to the skin, it affects everything.

Thing is, our heart and stomach shrink in size as we age and as a result, alcohol is retained by the body for a longer period. Hence, the two or three day hangover. When you add this to the fact that we are more prone to dehydration as we get older, this also means that the alcohol is more concentrated and takes longer to break down.

How does alcohol affect the brain?

Alcohol is a depressant, everyone knows this and the affect is one of contrasts. The initial effects of alcohol are of a more stimulating nature in that they block out negative thoughts such as judgement or reasoning but over a longer period, these feelings are often translated to an increase of anxiety and/or depression.

Thankfully, many experts are encouraging the public to start resolving such issues with action; many insist that six months away from alcohol can reverse the effects entirely.

How does it affect the skin?

Blood vessels grow when we consume alcohol. This can cause redness in the skin and over time it can lead to a more permanent nature.

Have you ever noticed spots after a big night out? In a similar sense, alcohol leads to stress which stimulates acne and as you grow older,  dehydrated skin can bring a flaky nature to your appearance.

What does alcohol do to the heart?

Alcohol increases blood pressure and this can in turn result in an increased risk of stroke or heart attack. The reason for this is because a higher level of alcohol will reduce the heart’s ability to function properly and pump blood around the body.

What does alcohol do to the liver?

Liver disease is on the rise as consuming alcohol will cause the liver to shrink. Thankfully, this is something which can be reversed and experts recommend allowing the liver at least three days to recover after a night of drinking.

How does alcohol affect weight?

Naturally, alcohol is heavy on calories and because the body recognizes the alcohol as a toxin, it chooses to break this down before any food you have eaten. For this reason, the food is often deemed surplus to requirements after counting these toxins as calories and the food is stored as fat.

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This piece was put together by Derek Cullen, a travel blogger for Ireland who plans to give up drinking for 2017. You can check out Derek’s site here and his Facebook page here