The Reason Some Alcohol Makes You More Hungover Than Others

We’re looking at you, champagne...

26/06/2016 8:00 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:54 PM AEST
Scotchy scotchy scotch.

Hangovers. They're about as fun as someone else's kid's birthday party. The only thing worse is combining a kids birthday party with a hangover, but we digress.

Not only are they annoying but we don't really know why we get them.

"The alcohol hangover develops when blood alcohol concentration (BAC) returns to zero and is characterised by a feeling of general misery that may last more than 24 hours," Dr Allan Thomson said in an Oxford University Press study.

"The alcohol hangover is an intriguing issue since it is unknown why these symptoms are present after alcohol and its metabolites are eliminated from the body."

Though, if you are fond of a tipple you'll be all too aware that not all hangovers are created equal. Some are bearable while others are a doozy. Sure, some of that comes down to the volume you consume, but the severity of a hangover also depends on your booze of choice.

"To make matters complicated, the presence and severity of alcohol hangovers is influenced by many factors other than the amount of alcohol. One is these factors is the presence of congeners in alcoholic drinks," the study read.

Say what?

"Congeners are substances that flavour and colour drinks. In laboratory experiments mixing pure alcohol with orange juice can prevent the presence of congeners. However, in real life (and naturalistic experiments) people consume a variety of different alcoholic drinks which all have different congener content."

So the additives to either the alcohol or mixer may be to blame. Another factor to consider is if your drink is dark or light. Again, those cheeky congeners are found in darker spirits.

"Drinking lighter colored drinks isn't a good method of hangover prevention -- but it may help a little. Congeners are found in larger amounts in dark liquors, such as brandy, whiskey, darker beer and red wine, than they are in clear liquors, such as vodka, gin and lighter beers. One particular congener -- methanol -- breaks down into the toxins formaldehyde and formic acid, which can worsen a hangover," said Doctor Daniel Hall-Flavin in a clinic statement.

Okay so gin is in and brandy is bad. Though what about champagne bubbles?

Are bubbles bad?

One study into the effect of bubbles on blood alcohol found that the blood alcohol levels of the subjects drinking champagne were higher for the first twenty minutes, suggesting that it had got into the bloodstream a lot quicker, so you may feel tipsy a little quicker. But will your head be worse for wear the next day? Sadly, yes.

"[Champagne] gets a bad reputation for bringing on a killer hangover the next day, and there may be some science to why that is. The carbon dioxide in carbonated beverages like champagne helps absorb the alcohol. You get a faster rate of absorption, higher blood alcohol levels -- and brain levels -- if you drink champagne as opposed to something non-carbonated," said Boris Tabakoff, a pharmacology professor at the University of Colorado.

As for a cure all? There isn't one. Obviously, the answer is moderation.

"Several studies have investigated hangovers, but none has found an effective method of hangover prevention. While lighter colored drinks may slightly help with hangover prevention, drinking too many alcoholic beverages of any color will still make you feel bad the morning after. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can cause dehydration, low blood sugar, digestive irritation and disturbed sleep — all factors that lead to hangover symptoms," said Dr Hall-Flavin.

Vodka sodas for everybody. Sorry.

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