This Is Why Your Hangovers Get Worse As You Get Older

Yes, you really are getting too old for this.
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Remember the days when you could down a few glasses of prosecco, tequila shots, and a glass of gin and wake up in the morning like nothing happened?

And then suddenly, you turn 25 and those days of care-free drinking are long gone. Now, every time you drink you feel like you’ve been hit by a bus the next morning.

Your older siblings and peers did warn that your hangovers would worsen with age. You laughed it off but it appears to be true and the experts think so too.

Why do hangovers get worse with age?

“Hangovers are the body’s response to consuming high levels of alcohol and being unable to efficiently metabolise it in the liver,” Jana Abelovska, Superintendent Pharmacist at Click Pharmacy tells HuffPost UK.

“The chances of incurring a hangover increase with the volume of alcohol we consume, and we typically feel the effects the next day, as this is when the alcohol levels in our blood reach zero.”

But before it can get to the CO2 and water stage, alcohol is broken down by the liver into a number of different substances, including the compound acetaldehyde. Dr Niall Campbell, consultant psychiatrist at Priory’s Roehampton Hospital, explains that as we age, our ability to metabolise acetaldehyde is reduced.

“That’s what you can smell on a heavy drinker’s breath the morning after the night before,” he says. “High acetaldehyde levels in heavy, steady drinkers is increasingly implicated in causing cancer.”

To make matters even worse, we’re just not fit as we once were. More body fat and less muscle make the alcohol we consume more concentrated in the body, leading to dehydration and worsening the dreaded hangover,” Lauren Booker, author of ‘Try Dry: The Official Guide to a Month Off Booze’, and consultant for Alcohol Change UK says.

What hangover differences will we feel between our 20s/30s/40s?

The hangover symptoms themselves don’t really change as we get older - but the frequency of getting them does.

“What does change is the frequency of incurring a hangover, and the volume of alcohol required to develop a hangover,” Abelovska says.

When we’re young our bodies can consume large volumes of alcohol with a reduced risk of waking up with a hangover. “However, as we age, the volume of alcohol required for a hangover decreases, which also makes them far more frequent visitors,” she explains.

“We may find ourselves waking up with that tell-tale sore head after just one or two drinks, compared to the ten or so that we were previously used to.”

So yes, I’m sorry to tell you that you’re getting old and your hangovers will go downhill from here. Opt for a glass of water rather than another beer next time you go the pub, okay?