How hangovers ease with age - study

A major study suggests the whole drinking experience gets easier with experience.Photo / Thinkstock
A major study suggests the whole drinking experience gets easier with experience.Photo / Thinkstock

Good news for those who like a drink but hate the after effects - hangovers get better with age, a study has found.

Unfortunately, for those in their 20s it may take another 30 years before they stop waking up the morning after the night before without the headaches, nausea and sickness.

But in a major study examining the drinking habits and the subsequent suffering of more than 50,000 adults, it seems the whole drinking experience gets easier with experience.

It could be down to the wisdom of experience in being able to take preventative action or a cure, or it may even be down to nature, said health researchers.

Both men and women report fewer hangover symptoms as they get older, said Danish health researchers for the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

These symptoms including the usual throbbing head plus a rampant thirst, exhaustion and vomiting among others.

And sometimes the number of sufferers decreased dramatically among the age groups.

For instance, 21 per cent of women aged 18 to 29 suffer nausea with a hangover compared to just 3 per cent of women aged 60 and over.

The researchers, from the University of Southern Denmark, studied the results of a nationwide online health survey which drew more than 76,000 responses, narrowing it down to a cross section of 51,645 adults aged 18 to 94.

Volunteers had to report the amount of alcohol they drank, per week, what type of booze they had, how much they drank on individual sessions and how often they got drunk.

They were also asked a series of detailed questions about hangovers so that researchers could work out who suffered the most after a night on the town.

The researchers found, not surprisingly, young adults, aged 18 to 30, tend to binge drink more often than those who are aged in their 50s or 60s.

But rather than build up a resistance, their hangovers remain substantially worse after a heavy session than an older adult after they have been on a session.

More than six in ten (62 per cent) men aged 18 to 29 suffer exhaustion when they have a hangover but this drops to just 14 per cent of those aged 60 or more, for instance.

Rather than build up a resistance, young people's hangovers remain substantially worse after a heavy session than those of older adults.Photo / Thinkstock
Rather than build up a resistance, young people's hangovers remain substantially worse after a heavy session than those of older adults.Photo / Thinkstock

The researchers believe the reasons why hangovers get better may be down to one or more of four different reasons.

First is the obvious one that as you get older you build up an "alcohol tolerance".

"Older people with longer drinking experiences than younger people may be more tolerant to the effects of alcohol including hangover effects," the study said.

Next, the actual amount of alcohol consumed in a "binge". For young adults it is typically nine drinks a night while for older drinkers it tends to be around six drinks.

Third is taking precautions, which older drinkers are more likely to do, again thanks to the benefits of experience.

This includes the type of drink - for instance, older fans of a tipple know not to mix their drinks and that light coloured spirits - like vodka - are less likely to lead to a hangover.

The same wisdom is used to take preventative action or remedies for the pain which range from Bloody Mary to green tea to aspirin, whether they are genuine cures or just placebos.

And the fourth reason is natural selection for boozers, evolution's way of making sure only the strong survive.

In drinking terms, this means that those who grow up suffering the worst hangovers after every binge are most likely to eventually give up binge drinking, said the researchers.

Those who handle the demon drink the best are those who will continue to knock it back as they go into old age.

Therefore a greater proportion of older drinkers will be those who know they can handle it without too much suffering the next day.

- DAILY MAIL

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