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Ask a Medical Pro: Why Do Hangovers Get Worse With Age?

We’ve all been there. It’s the morning after a night out, and everything hurts. But as we get older, it feels like even a casual glass of wine or a couple of beers with friends can yield the same dire results as doing shots at the bar until 4 a.m. used to.

The unfortunate reality is that, as we age, hangovers feel worse and worse. But why exactly does that happen? VinePair consulted Dr. Howard Worman, a doctor and professor of medicine at Columbia University to get to the bottom of this phenomenon.

According to Dr. Worman, there are no well-designed scientific studies that can definitively prove the mechanism behind our heightened hangovers. (Understandably, this issue is low-priority for the research community that’s otherwise occupied with curing diseases.)

“The answer I usually give to patients is that you can’t do a lot of things like you did when you were younger,” Dr. Worman says. “When I was younger as a medical resident I could stay up working all night. Your body gets older and just can’t handle insults as well.”

Beyond the issue of our aging bodies, Dr. Worman does have several theories as to what factors can contribute to our dwindling ability to deal with booze. One is a change in lifestyle. For example, when you stay out late or drink a lot in college, you might have more flexibility in your schedule to sleep in and properly recover. But in your 30s or 40s, when you may need to wake up early to get to work or take care of children, a 6 a.m. alarm can make the morning much harsher.

Your drinking frequency might change as you get older, too. Slowing down from three or four nights of moderate drinking per week to only one or two a month can change your tolerance and make hangovers stand out more prominently. Dr. Worman also notes that people should consider what medications they might be on as they get older, as some prescriptions can lead to dehydration or impact other pathways that can alter alcohol’s effect on the body.

As it turns out, dealing with intensified hangovers might just be a part of getting older. And while there’s no known answer to this dilemma, the bright side is that you still have plenty of time to perfect your own personal hangover remedy.

*Image retrieved from JENOCHE via

The article Ask a Medical Pro: Why Do Hangovers Get Worse With Age? appeared first on VinePair.

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