Alcohol hangover: mechanisms and mediators

Alcohol Health Res World. 1998;22(1):54-60.


Hangovers are a frequent, though unpleasant, experience among people who drink to intoxication. Despite the prevalence of hangovers, however, this condition is not well understood scientifically. Multiple possible contributors to the hangover state have been investigated, and researchers have produced evidence that alcohol can directly promote hangover symptoms through its effects on urine production, the gastrointestinal tract, blood sugar concentrations, sleep patterns, and biological rhythms. In addition, researchers postulate that effects related to alcohol's absence after a drinking bout (i.e., withdrawal), alcohol metabolism, and other factors (e.g., biologically active, nonalcohol compounds in beverages; the use of other drugs; certain personality traits; and a family history of alcoholism) also may contribute to the hangover condition. Few of the treatments commonly described for hangover have undergone scientific evaluation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / therapy
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / physiopathology*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / therapy
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Headache / chemically induced*
  • Headache / therapy
  • Humans
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / therapy


  • Ethanol