Why Hangovers Get Worse When You Get Older

It's no secret that hangovers seem to get worse as you get older. As you age, your body may not respond to alcohol the way it once did, making it harder and harder to recover from a hangover. Although further research is still needed, the most likely explanation for this phenomenon is that age affects the way your liver metabolizes alcohol (via Well+Good). As you get older, your liver produces less enzymes, which are needed to help metabolize alcohol.

With fewer enzymes, it takes longer for your liver to break it down, allowing the alcohol to linger in your system for longer than it should. As a result, more alcohol is absorbed in the bloodstream, leading to increased intoxication and prolonged hangover symptoms, like headaches, fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, anxiety, and brain fog. This is not the only possible explanation, however. Worsening hangovers may also be caused by certain lifestyle factors or even a genetic predisposition. But without any concrete evidence, there is no definitive answer.

How to prevent a hangover

Hangovers are a sign that you're drinking more than your body can handle. That's why it's important to know your limits and be aware of how much alcohol you're consuming. You can avoid a hangover by pacing yourself and drinking in moderation (via Men's Health). This can be achieved by drinking slowly and limiting yourself to one drink per hour. It's also important to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water throughout the night can help slow the absorption of alcohol in the bloodstream.

Another way to prevent a hangover is to eat a meal before drinking. "Drinking on an empty stomach means that there's nothing there to absorb the alcohol, so your body absorbs most of it," Dr. Sanda Moldovan, a periodontist and nutritionist, told Well+Good. "Having a full stomach helps to absorb the alcohol as you drink it, making your hangover much easier to tolerate." This won't work, however, if you wait to eat until after you've finished drinking. That's why it's a good idea to grab a bite to eat either before your drink or while you're still drinking.