It is easy to enjoy a nice glass of wine or a cold beer, but sometimes we can enjoy these adult beverages a little too much. This is where a person can start to feel dehydrated despite drinking a liquid. Dehydration occurs when your body loses fluid and electrolytes, causing common fatigue, headaches, and confusion. Prolonged dehydration may result in more serious health complications. Pure alcohol contains 7 calories per gram (g), which makes it the second most calorie-dense macronutrient (just behind fat). According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an average beer tends to contain 5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) while the average glass of wine is 12 percent ABV.

does alcohol dehydrate you

Biologically, alcohol enters the bloodstream via blood vessels in the tissue lining of the stomach and small intestine. Without food in the stomach, alcohol goes straight into the bloodstream instead of being absorbed more slowly through the stomach and small intestine. Drinking on an empty stomach can cause alcohol to be absorbed in your bloodstream within minutes.

Health Benefits of Alcohol Beyond Hydration

In Arizona, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level for most drivers is 0.08 percent. If you are pulled over and found with a BAC at or above 0.08 percent, you can be arrested for a DUI in Arizona. If you were drinking in the heat, you can reach this BAC more easily than drinking in normal weather conditions. Some people take over-the-counter pain relievers (often acetaminophen) before going to bed to minimize hangovers. It is important to recognize that the combination of alcohol and acetaminophen can be toxic to the liver. Like alcohol, certain over-the-counter pain relievers, including aspirin and ibuprofen, can increase acid release and irritate the lining of the stomach.

Although many remedies for alleviating hangovers are mentioned on the web and in social media, none have been scientifically proven to be effective. There is no magic potion for beating hangovers—and only time can help. A person must wait for the body to finish clearing the toxic byproducts of alcohol metabolism, to rehydrate, to heal irritated tissue, and to restore immune and brain activity to normal. There is no way to speed up the does alcohol dehydrate you brain’s recovery from alcohol use—drinking coffee, taking a shower, or having an alcoholic beverage the next morning will not cure a hangover. A hangover refers to a set of symptoms that occur as a consequence of drinking too much. Typical symptoms include fatigue, weakness, thirst, headache, muscle aches, nausea, stomach pain, vertigo, sensitivity to light and sound, anxiety, irritability, sweating, and increased blood pressure.

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Alcohol will do everything in its power to steer you toward dehydration. Knowing this, drinking water and a greater-than-normal amount of electrolytes can help by protecting against dehydration from alcohol. While hangover symptoms may remain, be sure to drink water to help speed your recovery. When drinking alcohol, especially in hot weather, avoiding dehydration is critical. Alcohol decreases the amount of ADH your body produces, making it harder to retain enough fluids.

You can read more about this in our article on alcohol and dehydration. Alcohol already has a dehydrating effect on the body; if you are drinking alcohol on a hot summer’s day in Arizona, this can dehydrate you even faster. Although heat and dehydration themselves will not make you drunk, they can intensify the effects of alcohol. You may be more likely to be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), therefore, after drinking on a hot day. But those amounts are based on specific concentrations of alcohol by volume, or ABV.

Why Does Drinking Alcohol Cause Dehydration?

But many and more recent studies have invalidated this conclusion. By now you know that alcohol does not have hydrating properties. There are, however, some studies to suggest that alcohol may have some other health benefits when enjoyed in moderation. For example, one study, published in July 2021 in BMC, Medicine found that moderate consumption of any type of alcohol decreased risk of death in those with preexisting heart disease. Additionally, red wine is well known to contain resveratrol, an antioxidant that Mayo Clinic points out may decrease inflammation and play a role in decreasing the risk of heart disease. Maintaining proper fluid balance helps eliminate waste, protect body tissues, and keep energy levels up, according to Mayo Clinic.

It may seem like an obvious point, but often people switch from hard liquor to, for example, beer in an attempt to rehydrate. Just because it has a lower percentage of alcohol and a larger volume of fluid, doesn’t mean it will rehydrate you. Before starting this section, it’s important to note that in most cases, there’s no real need to rehydrate quickly after drinking. Alcohol is a diuretic which means it makes you produce more urine. It does so by blocking the release of a hormone in your brain called vasopressin. Anyone who drinks alcohol can experience a hangover, but some people are more susceptible to hangovers than others are.

One of the most important questions to ask is when to rehydrate after drinking alcohol. Despite various over-the-counter pills and tablets that claim to prevent hangovers, the only guaranteed way to prevent a hangover is to avoid alcohol. Congeners are more likely to produce a hangover or increase the severity of a hangover. But drinking too much alcohol of any color can still make you feel bad the next morning. A single alcoholic drink is enough to trigger a hangover for some people, while others may drink heavily and escape a hangover entirely. If you mix alcohol with caffeinated drinks (ex. rum and Coke), you’re also increasing your dehydration factor, as caffeine will make you pee more which leads to further dehydration.

Does alcohol actually dehydrate you?

Why does alcohol cause dehydration? Alcohol is a diuretic and therefore causes excessive urination. As a result, a person loses vital fluids and electrolytes.

Vitamin B12 helps increase your energy level and will help your body to function and recover properly from a night on the town. That’s why it’s so important to drink responsibly and have a hydration game plan in place (more on that later) for nights when you indulge. Acetaldehyde is a metabolic byproduct of alcohol consumption (we talk about it a lot in our science section).

Do some types of alcohol dehydrate you more than others?

However, due to how alcohol affects the production of ADH, you will still become dehydrated after drinking beer. Consuming one beer leads to a 62% increase in urine produced compared to having a glass of water. Contrary to popular belief, alternating alcoholic drinks and water will not help you avoid dehydration. But you can certainly ensure you are as hydrated as possible before consuming alcohol. You can also drink water before you go to bed to help replenish hydration levels.

does alcohol dehydrate you

Alcoholic beverages contain ingredients called congeners, which give many types of alcoholic beverages their flavor and can contribute to hangovers. Congeners are found in larger amounts in dark liquors, such as brandy and bourbon, than in clear liquors, such as vodka and gin. To slow down the dehydrating effects of alcoholic drinks on you, try to have some food first. Eating may help reduce how much alcohol you’d want to have and slow down the rate at which the alcohol kicks in.

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