Alcohol

Difference Between: Alcohol Poisoning, Hangover and Alcohol Allergy

Alcohol Addiction and Abuse

A hangover is a group of unpleasant signs and symptoms that can develop after drinking too much alcohol. As if feeling awful weren’t bad enough, frequent hangovers are also associated with poor performance and conflict at work.

As a general rule, the more alcohol you drink, the more likely you are to have a hangover the next day. But there’s no magic formula to tell you how much you can safely drink and still avoid a hangover.

However unpleasant, most hangovers go away on their own, though they can last up to 24 hours. If you choose to drink alcohol, doing so responsibly can help you avoid future hangovers.

Alcohol poisoning is a serious — and sometimes deadly — consequence of drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. Drinking too much too quickly can affect your breathing, heart rate, body temperature and gag reflex and potentially lead to a coma and death.

If you have a true alcohol allergy, even small amounts of alcohol can cause symptoms. In some cases, it can even cause anaphylaxis. This is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning

Sometimes, you don’t need to drink too much to experience alcohol poisoning. Everybody has a limit of alcohol ingestion, according to his or her body weight, which will not pose any danger. But once that limit is exceeded, then alcohol poisoning symptoms will get installed. At the moment you feel slightly dizzy or euphoric, you have been intoxicated with alcohol. This is the first sign that will manifest. So if you stop drinking now, you will diminish the effect you will feel the next day. Also, you may have flushed skin, balance lose, have difficulties in coordinating your muscles, and your ability to take decisions may also be influenced. Alcohol poisoning will also enhance your emotional state, feeling very sad, very happy or violent in some cases.

The symptoms of alcohol poisoning (alcohol overdose) usually include at least some of the following:

  • Extreme confusion, stupor, inability to wake up or coma
  • Continuous vomiting
  • Increased heart rate and lowered blood pressure
  • Slow breathing or difficulty breathing
  • Decreased body temperature and/or chills making it difficult to regulate temperature and get warm
  • Hypothermia, causing paleness and bluish skin color
  • Severe dehydration that can potentially cause seizures and brain damage

Symptoms of a hangover

The hangover is what you experience the following days after drinking too much alcohol. Depending on the severity of your alcohol intoxication, the hangover can last one or more days. You feel like tired and weak, as your muscles will hurt, and your heart beat will race. Headaches are present, together with nausea, stomach pains, and even vomiting. You will feel sensitive to strong light and sound, have the impression the room is spinning, and you won’t be able to concentrate. You won’t be able to sleep properly, increasing irritability and depression moods. You will also feel constantly thirsty and lose of appetite.

The symptoms of an alcohol-induced hangover usually include at least a few of the following:

  • A headache that’s typically caused by dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it flushes the body’s water supply
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Weakness or tiredness
  • Decrease of attention span, ability to concentrate or irritability

The severity of hangovers vary based on a number of factors:

  • How much and how often a person drinks
  • A person’s alcohol tolerance
  • Their body weight
  • Whether or not they had food in their stomach before drinking

Symptoms of alcohol allergy

Like any other substance, alcohol does contain compounds that may cause allergies. Thus, drinking alcohol may trigger these allergies. Barley, yeast, wheat, gluten, hops, histamines and sulfides, are alcohol allergens. In people suffering from alcohol allergies, only a very small amount can cause them severe health issues. The symptoms connected with alcohol allergy or alcohol intolerance are stomach pains, breathing becomes a difficulty, and even collapse may occur in acute cases. Headaches, stuffy or runny nose, nausea, heartburn, vomiting, and increases in heart beats are among the common symptoms related to these allergies.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include:

  • Itchy mouth, eyes, or nose
  • Hives, eczema, or itchiness on your skin
  • Swelling of your face, throat, or other body parts
  • Nasal congestion, wheezing, or difficulty breathing
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Dizziness, light-headedness, or loss of consciousness

You should never ignore the symptoms of an allergic reaction. If left untreated, an allergic reaction can quickly become worse. In rare cases, severe allergic reactions can be fatal.

Reviewed by the QSota Medical Advisory Board