The impact of alcohol hangover symptoms on cognitive and physical functioning, and mood

Hum Psychopharmacol. 2017 Sep;32(5):e2623. doi: 10.1002/hup.2623. Epub 2017 Jul 27.


Hangover research often records the presence and severity of symptoms experienced the day after heavy alcohol consumption. However, usually no information is gathered on the impact of experiencing these symptoms on mood, cognition, and physical activities. An online survey was held among Dutch students, aged 18-30 years, who recently had a hangover. Overall hangover severity (i.e., a single 1-item rating) and the severity of 22 individual symptoms were rated on an 11-point scale ranging from 0 (absent) to 10 (extreme). In addition, for each symptom, participants were asked to rate their respective negative impact on (a) cognitive functioning, (b) physical functioning, and (c) mood, on a 6-point Likert scale ranging from 0 (no impact) to 5 (extreme). N = 1837 subjects completed the survey. The mean (SD) overall (1-item) hangover severity score was 6.1 (1.9). Sleepiness, being tired, thirst, and concentration problems were the most frequently reported hangover symptoms. These symptoms also reached the highest severity scores (ranging from 6.3 to 7.0). The 4 symptoms with the biggest combined impact on mood, and cognitive and physical functioning were being tired, sleepiness, headache, and concentration problems. In conclusion, whereas severity and impact scores usually correspond well, some frequently reported symptoms with moderate to high severity scores had little impact on mood, and cognitive and physical functioning (i.e., reduced appetite, regret, and thirst).

Keywords: alcohol; hangover; impact; severity; symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect* / drug effects
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Cognition* / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Regression Analysis
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Students
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult