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The Hangover. A fivefold path to feeling terrible

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It all seemed to be going so well the night before. The music was pumping, your heart was light, and you were making new friends as you partied the night away with old ones. However, as the festivities wore on and the dead soldiers piled up, you and your friends got buzzed, then sailed right past tipsy, and before the night was out, you had consumed enough alcohol to have you on your knees, praying to the porcelain goddess for relief and wondering, “How did I get myself into this?” The sad thing is, your troubles were just beginning. When you woke up the next morning you would be wallowing in the agony of that timeless enemy of all drinkers: the hangover.

Does this sound familiar? Almost anyone who has had a bit too much to drink before knows how the ecstasy of night of carousing becomes the debilitating malaise of the next morning’s hangover. The suite of symptoms that may accompany this common affliction include:

  • Headache
  • Body Ache
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea or Acid Reflux
  • Depression, anxiety, irritability
  • Increased heart rate

If you are wondering how something that makes you feel so good can suddenly turn on you and make you feel so bad, you are not alone. It turns out a hangover is a complex set of physiological processes that science has yet to fully understand. In this article we will look at some of the more prominent ways alcohol can screw with your body and make you wish you were never born. These include effects on your:

  • Fluid Homeostasis
  • Endocrine system
  • Liver
  • Immune system 
  • Digestive system

Alcohol Dehydrates You

The first and most well known cause of a hangover is dehydration. Alcohol dehydrates you because it functions as a diuretic (makes you urinate). It does this because it interferes with the release of vasopressin, a hormone that regulates your fluid homeostasis. Basically, vasopressin stops you from peeing all the time and when alcohol knocks out your vasopressin production, you do just that. Alcohol will stimulate you to lose fluid at a ratio of about 4:1. If you drink a cup of alcohol, you will pee out four cups of water. 

All this fluid release dehydrates you, draining you of electrolytes and bringing on all the classic symptoms of dehydration like:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth/ Strong thirst 
  • Confusion

As an interesting added benefit, this dehydration actually causes the brain to shrink. This shrinkage pulls on the meninges, which are the membranes that line the inner surface of the skull and causes the splitting headache hard drinkers know so well.

Alcohol Messes with your Endocrine System

Besides the hormone vasopressin, mentioned above, alcohol affects several other hormones as well.

The Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System

The Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System (RAAS) is a complex system of hormones that regulates the fluid and electrolyte balance in the body as well as controlling blood pressure. Alcohol stimulates the production of renin and aldosterone. This further exacerbates the dehydration issue mentioned above and may be responsible for some of the increased heart rate some people get with a hangover. 

There is even some interesting evidence that heightened aldosterone levels in people who drink often may contribute to the development of alcoholism. 

Glutamine Rebound

Glutamine is an amino acid that the body uses in a myriad of ways, including as a natural stimulant. Alcohol suppresses glutamine levels as long as you are drinking. When you finally get some sleep and your body processes the alcohol, the muscles go into overdrive, pumping out glutamine and creating a “rebound” effect. This interferes with the quality of your sleep and makes you feel like you haven’t slept at all. Glutamine rebound can also cause restlessness, sadness, and anxiety. 

Alcohol Overwhelms Your Liver

Acetaldehyde

90% of the work of breaking down alcohol is done by the liver. The liver metabolizes ethanol (they type of alcohol you drink) in a two-step process. First, an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase breaks the ethanol down into a substance called acetaldehyde. This is only meant to be an intermediary step, referred to as a secondary metabolite. 

Acetaldehyde is really nasty stuff. It is said to be 20-30 times more toxic than ethanol itself. Ideally, though, it doesn’t stick around for long. Your liver immediately releases the enzyme acetaldehyde dehydrogenase and an antioxidant called glutathione. Together, the two substances bind up this poison, whisk it away through your urine, and high-five each other on a job well done. 

Unfortunately, your liver only keeps a finite supply of glutathione on hand. When available stores of glutathione are used up,the liver has to rush to make more. In the meantime, the acetaldehyde builds up and roams free in the body, causing all kinds of mischief and making you feel really sick. That’s why this phenomenon only shows up when you drink a lot of alcohol. 

 An interesting side note is that Antabuse, a drug used to treat alcoholism, amplifies the consequences of drinking by interfering with your body’s breakdown of acetaldehyde. If you take antabuse and stay away from alcohol, you don’t feel a thing. However, if you drink alcohol at any time you are on Antabuse, you can’t break down acetaldehyde at all. Then the acetaldehyde runs rampant through your system and you probably feel sicker than you have ever felt in your life.

Methanol

Methanol is a close relative of ethanol. Also known as “methylated spirit” and “wood alcohol” methanol is very toxic beyond the trace amounts that occur naturally in fruits. 10 ml of methanol is enough to make you go blind and 30ml will kill you. Some of the darker colored alcoholic beverages like red wine and bourbon contain small amounts of methanol as an incidental byproduct. 

When you drink beverages that contain methanol, you don’t feel any ill effect right away. That’s because, just like ethanol, methanol gets broken down in a two step process. First, alcohol dehydrogenase (the same enzyme mentioned before), breaks the methanol down into its own secondary metabolite; formaldehyde.

That’s right folks. Embalming fluid. The stuff they use to pickle animal specimens or preserve a body for a funeral. Is it any wonder a hangover makes you feel so crummy when you have a few drops of embalming fluid coursing through your veins? 

Of course, your body doesn’t process the methanol right away. That’s the beauty of the hangover. Alcohol dehydrogenase has a stronger affinity for ethanol, so it processes that first. Only after all the ethanol has worked its way out of your bloodstream does your body begin to break down methanol. The methanol you drink in your Cabernet Sauvignon just floats around harmlessly in your system until a few hours after you go to sleep. Then your liver attacks the methanol and starts churning out formaldehyde. No wonder you feel like you’re being pickled from the inside out. 

Blood Sugar

While your liver is busy breaking down alcohol, it isn’t doing another essential job, which is producing glucose. As a result, your blood glucose levels drop and you are forced to break down glycogen stored in other parts of the body. This leads you to feel weak, lethargic,and depressed. 

Alcohol Causes an Immune Response

New research points to a previously unknown pathway by which alcohol makes you feel like crap: your immune system. Consumption of alcohol has been linked with the release of cytokines that can trigger a systemic inflammatory response. 

Alcohol Irritates Your Digestive System

Last but not least, alcohol damages the lining of your stomach. That stimulates the release of more stomach acid and can cause vomiting. Alcohol also seems to make the lining of the intestines more permeable, which causes it to leak undigested molecules into the bloodstream. This is a probable cause of the immune response mentioned above. 

After taking in all the diverse ways that we end up paying for a night of hard drinking, it’s amazing we survive it at all. The internet is full of supposed cures for hangovers, but the mechanisms of action in a hangover are so diverse, so strong, and so complex, that none of them are going to be a silver bullet. The best way of avoiding a hangover is common sense: take it easy on the booze in the first place!   

Do Hangover Cures Actually Work

Every drinker knows of a few hangover cures, ranging from Ibuprofen to certain vitamins (such as B and Zinc), and even “hair of the dog” (drinking more alcohol). While a good meal may help, the one solution you can rely on to help you feel better is lots of fresh, clean water. Even though some studies have shown that dehydration isn’t the biggest contributing factor to hangovers, health experts recommend drinking plenty of water anyway. Water is life. It helps our liver and kidneys function properly, which is how our bodies filter out contaminants. Even if you aren’t recovering from a bender, it’s always a good idea to stay hydrated.

The only sure-fire way to avoid a hangover is to drink less alcohol. While sobriety isn’t for everyone, even just commiting to a glass of water between drinks can make a big difference in how you feel the next morning. That may be partially due to the healthy effects of water, but mostly its because this strategy results in less alcohol consumption in the first place.

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How To Proactively Maintain Your Dental Health To Avoid Major Issues

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The truth about dental health is that a majority of people could be doing a better job in one or multiple areas. Going years without a cavity or any major issues can help you save time and money. Teaching children about good oral hygiene habits is something that can follow them for a lifetime. A great smile can improve your confidence as your teeth should be something you are proud of. Visiting your dentist twice a year for a cleaning is something that can give you a status on the health of your teeth. Below are tips that will help you avoid issues by proactively caring for your dental health. 

Finding Toothpaste For Your Mouth

The toothpaste that you pick needs to align with what you want to improve with your teeth. You might want to improve gum health or to whiten your teeth. The beauty of today’s world is that there are so many different options for toothpaste. 

Timing how long you are brushing can be very important. You might think you are brushing for minutes but in actuality, you are brushing for less than a minute. A timer is something that can help you stay consistent with your oral hygiene routine. An extra minute or two spend on your dental health is time spent in a constructive manner. A few minutes a day can make a huge improvement in the health of your teeth. 

Mouthguards For The Grinding Of Teeth

The clenching of the jaw and grinding of teeth is something people do in their sleep. If you wake up with sore teeth or a sore jaw, you might need to invest in a mouthguard. There are special guards or you can use one that is used for sports. A basketball mouthguard can be perfect for sleep as you can wear it comfortably without the risk of swallowing it on accident. 

Hygiene With Invisalign

Hygiene with Invisalign is not difficult but might require a few more steps. You are going to have to clean your aligners regularly as recommended by an Invisalign dentist. You should also store these in a case to avoid damage. The rest of the hygiene is very similar as it is recommended that you brush and floss. Investing in an aligner cleaning kit is also going to be very important. Avoid food or drink that causes stains as regular consumption can stain your teeth and aligners. 

Don’t Forget Mouthwash And Flossing 

Mouthwash used to be so harsh regardless of the brand that you picked. There are now mouthwashes for people that have sensitive mouths. Alcohol-free options are also available as this can be very harsh for children. Mouthwashes for children are also available in great flavors like bubblegum. 

Flossing is something that far too many people neglect. This can help remove food that leads to plaque and the decay of teeth. If your gums bleed when you floss, this just means you need to do this more often. There are mouthwashes that can help the health of the gums and make them stronger. 

Maintaining your dental health is not something that you regret as you age. You want to keep your teeth as long as possible and you can do this with the right oral hygiene routine.

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How To Deal With The Lengthy Recovery/Rehabilitation Of A Serious Injury

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What Health Issues Can Arise After A Car Accident?

Injuries occur in a number of ways whether it is a car accident or slip and fall incident. Sports injuries also occur but most of these are not permanent unless particularly severe. Taking your rehab seriously is always going to be important so you can get back to normal as soon as possible. Some injuries might take months or years to fully recover from. Don’t extend your rehab period by refusing to do your exercises or make lifestyle changes that you need to make. Below are tips to help you deal with a lengthy recovery after a serious injury. 

Don’t Lash Out At Those Helping You

You want to feel empowered so seeking help from a personal injury attorney is important if injured in a car accident. You should not have to financially take on medical bills due to the mistake of another party.  This will help you find a way in this time where you might feel a bit lost. A positive attitude combined with experienced legal representation will help you take back control of this situation.

Avoid Coping With Alcohol Or Other Substances

Boredom is something that can lead to substance abuse which the pandemic highlighted. You do not want to cope with alcohol as this can lead to a problem quite quickly. Addiction is a slippery slope that is something that will not take care of itself. If you find yourself drinking too much, take the time to find help. There are a number of online resources and support groups for those struggling with various addictions. This can include drugs, alcohol, and even gambling. 

Immerse Yourself In Your Rehabilitation 

Rehab is not going to be your favorite part of the day but it is the most important. You need to have clear communication with your physical therapist. Dedicate yourself to doing anything you are asked to do whether it is during your session or while you are at home. Working hard is important but be smart about this as you do not want to reinjure yourself leading to a longer recovery process. 

Seek Mental Health Counseling 

Mental health counseling might be something you have to seek out yourself. The truth is that there are some injuries where you can recover but will never be what you consider 100 percent again. This can be so tough to deal with when the injury is not your fault and was caused by the negligence of another individual. There are support groups for people that have sustained serious injuries. Accepting the injury can take years without the proper support and you do not want to turn bitter about your situation. Do not allow your injury to define you as you are so much more than that. 

The lengthy rehabilitation of an injury is so challenging both mentally and physically. Take control of your rehab as it is something that will not take care of itself. Stay motivated and positive through the process as this is something that will make you a stronger person. 

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What Health Issues Can Arise After A Car Accident?

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What Health Issues Can Arise After A Car Accident?

Sometimes car accidents only result in minor damage. But unfortunately, there are a lot of health issues that won’t show up until days, if not weeks, after the initial accident.

It’s important to seek medical attention after a collision, no matter how small it may be. If you’ve experienced any physical or psychological pain, you may also want to consider hiring a car accident lawyer.

If you have long-term damage, someone will need to compensate you accordingly for any financial or physical loss.

Here are 7 physical and mental side effects that can transpire after a car accident.

1. Head Trauma

Head trauma from a car accident is typically a form of TBI (traumatic brain injury). This happens usually when there is a blow to the head or someone experiences whiplash.

Upon impact of the vehicle, a person’s brain can rebound and hit the interior skull. This is known as a contrecoup lesion. This can cause serious, long-term damage to the inner lining of tissues and blood vessels.

2. Spinal Injuries

The spine is an essential part of the human body. It connects various parts of our skeleton. The spinal nerve is what connects our brain to other nerves throughout our body.

When the spine is damaged during a car accident, it can lead to long-lasting issues such as paralysis from the neck or waist down. Paralysis is typically nonreversible. The spinal cord can’t repair itself.

Seeking immediate medical attention after an accident is the only way to provide any preventative measures for irreversible damage.

3. Neck Injuries

The most common reason for a neck injury to occur in a car accident is whiplash. This is the rapid back and forth motion of the head and neck area, much like the cracking of a whip.

Most often, this will happen in a rear-end accident. However, it can occur in other types as well. Some symptoms or side effects of a neck injury may include, but are not limited to:

  • Stiffness or soreness
  • Loss of motion in the neck
  • Tingling sensations in the arms
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Blurred vision

4. Disk Damage

The human spine has 24 disks that act as shock absorbers for regular movement such as walking, running, or jumping. However, a car accident could lead to a major health issue such as a herniated disk causing severe damage.

This means a person will feel extreme pain from basic everyday movements. The pain could potentially radiate down your legs or in your hips.

5. Decreased Cognitive Abilities

There are many times where a person gets into a car accident and experiences memory loss. This decrease in cognitive ability is usually due to a concussion, impact to the head, or a form of PTSD.

There are two main types of forgetfulness: post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) and anterograde amnesia. PTA is a shortened state of confusion and is usually temporary. Anterograde amnesia means the memories are lost and can never be regained.

6. PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the emotional and mental distress that someone experiences regularly after a traumatic incident.

It can result in several issues such as insomnia, vivid flashbacks, or shock. Any car accident regardless of its severity, could lead to PTSD.

7. Anxiety

It’s extremely common for people to experience heightened levels of anxiety after a car accident. This could be in situations when you’re in another vehicle or even in your day-to-day life.

The emotional distress you feel with anxiety can also cause other issues such as a change in appetite, irritability, bouts of anger, or a loss of interest in daily activities.

Conclusion

It’s easy for someone to write off a little neck pain or body soreness as a temporary issue from a car accident. But it’s important not to wait to seek medical attention.

The physical or emotional pain a person experiences may result in long-term damage that can’t be seen at the surface. It requires a proper medical diagnosis.

Talk to a doctor immediately if you’ve been in a car accident. It could potentially save your life.

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