Key Points

Hangover or Dehydration? How to Tell the Difference?

Are you waking up with a pounding headache and a dry mouth, feeling utterly miserable and wondering if it's the aftermath of a wild night out or simply a case of dehydration?

The battle between a hangover and dehydration can be confusing, as both share similar symptoms.

In this guide, we'll delve deeper into the world of alcohol-induced hangover and dehydration, helping you differentiate between the two and providing you with effective tips to recover from both.

So grab a glass of water, sit back, and let's uncover the truth behind these notorious morning-after experiences.

Hangover or Dehydration? How to Tell the Difference?
Hangover or Dehydration? How to Tell the Difference?


📘 Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Understand the Hangover
  1. Understand the Dehydration
  1. How to differentiate between a hangover and dehydration?
  2. Prevention and treatment of both hangover and dehydration
  3. Conclusion
  4. FAQs


Understand the Hangover


Hangover refers to the unpleasant physical and mental effects that occur after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. It typically includes a combination of symptoms such as headache, nausea, fatigue, dehydration, sensitivity to light and noise, dizziness, and irritability.


  • Headache: A throbbing or pulsating pain, often concentrated in the temples or forehead.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Feeling queasy or throwing up due to irritation of the stomach lining.
  • Fatigue: Overwhelming tiredness and lack of energy, possibly combined with muscle weakness.
  • Dehydration: Alcohol's diuretic effect can lead to increased urination, causing dehydration and related symptoms like dry mouth and thirst.
  • Sensitivity to light and noise: Feeling more sensitive to bright lights and loud sounds, which can worsen headache and discomfort.
  • Dizziness or vertigo: A sensation of spinning or imbalance, potentially leading to problems with coordination or concentration.
  • Irritability and mood disturbances: Feeling easily annoyed, anxious, or depressed due to disrupted neurotransmitter levels caused by alcohol consumption.


The specific causes of hangover are still not fully understood. However, it is widely believed that the following factors contribute to the symptoms experienced:

  • Alcohol's impact on the body: Alcohol has various effects on the body, including dehydration, increased urine production, and inflammation of the stomach lining, which can all contribute to hangover symptoms.
  • Chemical imbalances: Alcohol alters chemical levels in the brain, particularly inhibiting the production of vasopressin, a hormone involved in water reabsorption by the kidneys. This can lead to dehydration.
  • Congeners: Some alcoholic beverages contain compounds called congeners, which are byproducts of fermentation and can contribute to hangover intensity. Darker spirits like red wine, brandy, and whiskey tend to have higher congener content.
  • Acetaldehyde accumulation: Alcohol is metabolized by the liver into acetaldehyde, a toxic compound that can cause headaches and other hangover symptoms.
  • Disruption of sleep patterns: Alcohol disrupts sleep, leading to inadequate rest and exacerbating feelings of fatigue and general malaise.

READ ALSO: How to stop throwing up after drinking?


Understand the Dehydration


Dehydration refers to a condition when the body does not have enough water to function properly. This occurs when the body loses more fluid than it takes in.


Symptoms of dehydration can vary depending on severity, but common symptoms include:

  • Thirst and dry mouth
  • Dark yellow or amber-colored urine
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Dry skin
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps or spasms
  • Decreased urine output
  • Sunken eyes
  • Rapid heartbeat or breathing
  • Confusion or irritability (especially in severe cases)


  • Inadequate fluid intake: Not drinking enough water or fluids can lead to dehydration.
  • Excessive sweating: Engaging in intense physical activity or being in a hot environment can cause excessive sweating, resulting in fluid loss.
  • Diarrhea and vomiting: These conditions can lead to significant fluid loss.
  • Illness: Certain illnesses, such as fever or infections, can increase fluid requirements or cause fluid loss through sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Medication: Some medications, like diuretics, can increase urination and contribute to fluid loss.
  • Alcohol and caffeine consumption: Both alcohol and caffeine can have a diuretic effect, leading to increased urine production.
  • Age: Infants, children, and older adults may be more prone to dehydration due to their higher fluid requirements or decreased ability to sense thirst.
  • Medical conditions: Some medical conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease, can contribute to dehydration.

READ ALSO: 10 Best hangover remedies for a quick recovery


How to differentiate between a hangover and dehydration?

The main difference between hangover and dehydration is that hangover is mainly caused by excessive alcohol consumption, whereas dehydration is caused by inadequate fluid intake or excessive loss of fluids.


Prevention and treatment of both hangover and dehydration

Limit your alcohol intake, drink plenty of water before, during and after drinking, and replenish electrolytes with sports drinks or coconut water. Additionally, getting adequate rest before and after drinking alcohol and eating a balanced diet can help reduce hangover symptoms and prevent dehydration.



Both hangovers and dehydration can cause similar symptoms such as fatigue, headache, and dizziness, there are a few key differences that can help differentiate between the two.

Hangovers are primarily caused by excessive alcohol consumption, whereas dehydration stems from insufficient intake of fluids. It is important to pay attention to other factors such as urine color, alcohol consumption history, and accompanying symptoms like nausea or sensitivity to light.

Consulting a healthcare professional is crucial if the symptoms persist or worsen, as they can provide an accurate diagnosis and necessary treatment.

Additionally, preventing both hangovers and dehydration can be achieved by maintaining moderate alcohol intake, staying hydrated with regular fluid intake, and incorporating healthy habits such as eating well-balanced meals and getting enough rest.



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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a hangover scientifically?

Scientifically, hangover is primarily caused by various factors, including alcohol's diuretic effect, inflammation, disruption of sleep patterns, changes in neurochemical balance, and metabolic reactions triggering the release of toxic byproducts.

How do you rehydrate a hangover?

Drink plenty of water or other hydrating fluids such as electrolyte-rich drinks, coconut water, or sports drinks.

What are 4 symptoms of hangover?

Headache, Nausea, Fatigue and Dehydration.

Can dehydration feel like a hangover?

Yes, dehydration can indeed feel like a hangover.

Why do I get hangovers so easily now?

Hangovers are caused by a combination of factors such as dehydration, the effects of alcohol on your body, and changes in your metabolism with age, making you more susceptible to easily experiencing a hangover.

Why do I feel weird 2 days after drinking?

When you consume alcohol, your body has to work to metabolize and eliminate it, which can lead to dehydration and changes in brain chemistry. Even after two days, these effects may remain in your system, resulting in strange or uncomfortable sensations.

Will drinking lots of water cure a hangover?

Drinking plenty of water can help ease some hangover symptoms, but it can't cure it completely.

Does drinking the next day help a hangover?

No, never. I have already written a detailed article about Hangover Myths, which you can read.