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Millions of people like to have a beer with their friends, or maybe two, or maybe three or four. Sharing a beer, for better or worse, builds social connections, helps people blow off steam after a hard day at work, and even provides calories for the next day's work or play.
The problem with having more than one beer or maybe two, aside from the foolish things you can do when you get drunk, is how you feel the next day. You'll probably feel thirsty. (Just as a hint, drinking another beer isn't a good idea at this point.) You'll probably feel groggy. You may have a headache. Sight and sound can be unpleasant, your heart rate will speed up, you can have headaches or muscle aches, and your mental faculties will be, well, disturbed. People who are hung over usually over-react to emotional stimuli, have difficulty concentrating, and memories, particularly of the last night's drinking, only return slowly.
Alcohol poisoning, by the way, is a medical emergency. Someone who has blue or purple skin, who is breathing at a rate of 8 breaths a minute or less, who is vomiting violently or has seizures, needs to go to an emergency room immediately. A hangover doesn't require medical attention, but alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal, always does.
Some people get a hangover after taking just one drink, while other people can drink heavily and feel fine the next morning. There are a variety of ways in which alcohol disturbs metabolism and causes unpleasant symptoms.The alcohol in beer forces the body to produce more urine. The body becomes dehydrated, with resulting dizziness, grogginess, and thirst. Dehydration also intensifies body odor and bad breath.
- Alcohol activates the immune system. The immune system produces inflammation as if it were attacking a germ, but the miguided immune attack only affects the brain. It's the overactive immune system that causes loss of appetite, fuzzy thinking, and memory lapses.
- Alcohol decreases the speed at which the stomach digests food. This keeps more acid in the stomach longer, and leads to heartburn, indigestion, nausea, and vomiting.
- Alcohol makes your blood vessels expand, which can cause migraine-like headaches.
- Alcohol causes your blood sugar levels to fall. The liver is busy detoxifying alcohol and can't convert glycogen, which is essentially stored sugar, into glucose for the body's needs. In alcoholics, a damaged liver may be unable to store sugar so that blood sugar levels stay too high.
- Alcohol makes you sleepy, but your quality of sleep is decreased. You can't get enough sleep to feel refreshed the next morning even if you don't stay out late.
- Beer contains congeners, flavoring agents from the malt, hops, and other ingredients, which give it flavor. These chemicals make dehydration worse, and slow down digestion even more. 'This is the reason beer causes worse hangovers than stronger alcoholic beverages that don't contain congeners, such as vodka.
There are alcohol-free beers, of course, but people usually don't like them. What could possibly be done to beer to make it hangover-proof?