Almost all adults who drink alcohol, whether casually or heavily, have experienced a hangover at some point in their lives. Fewer individuals can say they have had alcohol poisoning. In some cases, however, a person with an extremely bad hangover may think they are going through alcohol poisoning. And on the other hand, alcohol poisoning can sometimes be confused for a very bad hangover. This is because the symptoms of a terrible hangover and alcohol poisoning are somewhat similar, but the outcomes of one of those conditions are much more severe.
Alcohol poisoning is an extremely dangerous condition that requires immediate medical attention. That’s why it is so important to answer the question, “Do I have alcohol poisoning or a bad hangover?” If you have a hangover, you are at much lower risk for serious and potentially fatal complications. Keep reading to learn about the differences between these two conditions.
What It’s Like To Have A Hangover
A hangover is a set of unpleasant symptoms that develop after someone drinks too much alcohol. These symptoms usually start the morning after a night of drinking and can last up to 24 hours. Common symptoms of a hangover include fatigue, poor or decreased sleep, weakness, dry mouth, extreme thirst, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, dizziness, inability to concentrate, mood changes, rapid heartbeat, shakiness, headaches, muscle aches and body aches, and sensitivity to light and sound. They are extremely uncomfortable, but usually go away on their own and can be managed from the comfort of a person’s own home.
While you can’t speed up the process of having a hangover, you can make the symptoms a little more tolerable. If you have a hangover you should drink plenty of fluids like water and Gatorade to decrease dehydration and increase electrolytes. You should avoid caffeinated drinks like coffee and alcoholic drinks. Eat a meal with plenty of carbs to fill up your stomach, and try to engage in light exercise like walking or stretching. You can also take certain over-the-counter pain relief medications to minimize headaches and other symptoms. And, of course, resting and getting a good night’s sleep will help ease any uncomfortable side effects.
Why Some Hangovers Are Worse Than Others
The more alcohol someone drinks, the worse their hangover is bound to be. Unfortunately, there is no formula that determines how much someone has to drink to avoid a bad hangover. Some people can get a hangover from drinking just a few drinks, while others need to consume much more alcohol to feel sick the next morning. This depends on a variety of factors like a person’s age, weight, sex, genetics, and more.
Also, some alcoholic drinks (like whiskey and rum) are more likely to cause bad hangovers than others. And, of course, a hangover will be worse the next day if a person does not drink water before and during drinking alcohol.
Symptoms & Signs Of Alcohol Poisoning
Alcohol poisoning occurs when a person drinks a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. The poisoning process starts when specific parts of the brain shut down because there is too much alcohol in someone’s blood. It is essentially like a drug overdose, but with alcohol.
Symptoms of alcohol poisoning can be serious and require immediate medical attention. If you witness someone experiencing alcohol poisoning, you should make sure they get to the emergency room as soon as possible. While waiting for help, try to keep them awake and give them plenty of water. If they’re asleep, keep them on their side and cover them with a blanket.
Some signs of alcohol poisoning include:
- Weak gag reflex
- Passing out
- Clammy skin
- Slow/irregular breathing
- Poor coordination
- Slower response time
- Blue or pale skin
- Low body temperature
- Difficulty waking up
The side effects of alcohol poisoning could lead to coma or even death if not treated as soon as possible. People who are going through alcohol poisoning should not consume any more alcohol and should not complete tasks like drinking water or showering until they are cleared to do so by a medical professional.
Bad Hangovers Vs. Alcohol Poisoning
The main difference between alcohol poisoning and bad hangovers is that alcohol poisoning is much more severe because of the consequences it can cause. Hangovers usually develop after a night of drinking, whereas alcohol poisoning is more likely to occur after someone goes on a “bender” or drinks for several nights in a row. Lastly, hangovers go away on their own once the body works to remove alcohol from a person’s system. Alcohol poisoning, however, requires alcohol to be taken out of the system manually and as soon as possible.
It is completely natural to experience hangovers every now and then. But if you get hangovers regularly, it may be time to consider your relationship with alcohol and begin to monitor your drinking habits. If you’ve had alcohol poisoning, it is important to take precautions to ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen again.
To learn more about the differences between bad hangovers and alcohol poisoning, contact our team of substance abuse and alcohol addiction treatment representatives by giving us a call at 866-488-8684.