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Why Do Hangovers Get Worse with Age? Explained (2024)

Why Do Hangovers Get Worse With Age

No matter your age, enjoying a good time is timeless. However, when alcohol enters the scene, you might observe that recovering from a big night becomes more challenging as you age.

So, why do hangovers get worse with age? Do older people tend to have worse hangover symptoms than late teens?

After a thorough research, let me answer these questions and clarify the confusion once and for all.

10 Reasons Hangovers Get Worse With Age

1. Slower Liver Metabolism

Man Holding Stomach

Our liver’s ability to process alcohol slows down when aging.

“As we age, our bodies become less efficient at metabolizing alcohol.” – Dr. Kahana, MD, Gastroenterologist and Formulator

So, the toxins, Acetaldehyde, from alcoholic drinks hang around in our system longer, making the morning after feel like an uphill battle. Check out some wine hangover cures here

2. Aging Challenges Hydration

With aging, the body struggles to retain total body water. It might result in a higher blood alcohol concentration depending on how much alcohol people drink.

What will happen next? This will lead to dehydration, a significant contributor to those nasty hangover symptoms.

Regardless, just because you don’t feel hungover doesn’t mean the drink doesn’t impact your health.

3. Change In Body’s Size

Aging changes our body composition; we tend to have more fat and less muscle mass.

Since alcohol is water-soluble and muscle contains more water than fat, the alcohol in our system gets less diluted, resulting in a more horrible hangover.

4. Hypoglycemia

Blood sugar regulation becomes trickier when aging. A drop in blood glucose levels when drinking alcohol can leave you feeling weak and shaky the next day, intensifying your hangover woes.

Read: Top Wines For No Hangover

5. Electrolyte Deficiency

Drinks with alcohol are known for their diuretic effect, which flushes essential electrolytes like potassium and magnesium out of your system.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, losing these electrolytes can result in fatigue or a headache when a hangover strikes [1].

So, after a fun drink session last night, you should eat a hearty breakfast and rehydrate to avoid health problems in the long run.

6. Poor Quality Sleep

Man Sleeping

Sure, you might fall asleep quickly after you binge drink, but the sleep quality is often subpar.

Booze disrupts the sleep cycle, preventing you from getting the restorative rest you need to wake up feeling refreshed.

7. Gastrointestinal Issues

Aging makes our digestive system less efficient to metabolize alcohol. This can lead to hangover symptoms like stomach discomfort, nausea, and vomiting [2].

These are all unpleasant side effects of overindulgence (or, I must say, alcohol abuse). If you have an upset stomach (more intense than usual), seek treatment immediately.

8. Infrequent Binge Drinking Effects

Younger people can bounce back quickly from heavy drinking. But as aging occurs, your body’s ability to manage hungover declines.

You might get less accustomed to binge drinking happenings, making the consequences more severe.

Read: Top Alcoholic Drinks For A Hangover

9. Diminished Alcohol Tolerance

Your alcohol tolerance tends to decrease when aging, partly due to the changes in liver function and metabolism.

“Hangovers suck, but they’re a reminder to enjoy responsibly.” – Liquor Laboratory 

So, you might feel the hangover symptoms more intensely, even with the same amount you used to handle effortlessly. Now, you can be prone to intense headaches and dehydration.

10. Medications

Person Taking Drugs

Many of us start taking medications or supplements the older we get, and some of the medicine stuff can interact with alcohol, amplifying hangover symptoms.

FAQs Related to Why Do Hangovers Get Worse with Age?

Why do hangovers hit harder after 40?

Hangovers feel more severe after 40 due to slower liver metabolism, changes in body composition, and decreased alcohol tolerance. These make it harder for your body to process and recover from the effects of the alcoholic drink.

Are heavy drinkers happier in old age?

It depends. While some heavy drinkers report increased happiness, excessive drinking isn’t recommended for overall well-being.
It can lead to health issues and worsen hangovers, diminishing the quality of life in the long run.

What age is most affected by alcoholism?

Alcoholism can affect people of all ages (even kids), but it becomes more prevalent in middle-aged and older adults.

Aspects like life transitions, depression, stress, and changes in social circles can contribute to alcoholism in older groups.

How does decreased liver function contribute to worsening hangovers with age?

As we get older, our liver becomes less efficient at metabolizing alcohol, leading to higher blood alcohol levels and prolonged exposure to its toxic byproducts. This can intensify hangover symptoms and prolong recovery time.

Does a decrease in body water content play a role in worsening hangovers as we age?

Yes, as we age, our body’s water content decreases, leading to reduced hydration levels. Since alcohol is a diuretic, it exacerbates dehydration, making hangover symptoms like headaches and fatigue more severe, especially in older adults.

How does increased sensitivity to alcohol contribute to worsening hangovers with age?

Older adults often experience increased sensitivity to alcohol due to changes in body composition, metabolism, and neurotransmitter function. This heightened sensitivity can lead to more pronounced hangover symptoms, even after consuming smaller amounts of alcohol.

Are there hormonal changes that play a role in worsening hangovers as we age?

Yes, hormonal changes associated with aging, such as fluctuations in estrogen and testosterone levels, can impact how our bodies metabolize alcohol. These hormonal shifts may contribute to increased hangover severity and longer recovery times.

Final Verdict

So, there you have it – the reasons why hangovers tend to get worse the older we get. Slower metabolism, hypoglycemia, and other factors conspire to make those post-drinking mornings less enjoyable.

Understanding these factors helps you take steps to minimize the severity of frequent hangovers. As much as possible, stick with wine, beer, or mixed drinks to avoid hangover symptoms to occur.

Having just a couple of drinks is easier said than done, but remember to drink responsibly and consider the impact of more alcohol on your changing body as the years go by! 


  1. Alcohol’s Effects on Health
  2. Hangovers
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