Young people tend to turn to alcohol to amp up the fun, de-stress and feel high. However, as age advances, this might no longer be the case because hangovers seem to be getting worse. Scientific reasons are behind it and experts explained why.

As people age, the effects of too much alcohol starts to kick in. The body may start showing signs of excess alcohol intake, which were most likely not present during their early days of drinking. Here are some of the experts' explanations as to why hangovers get worse through time:

Liver lapses

As people advance in age, the liver begins to decrease its ability to adapt to alcohol consumption. The enzyme that metabolizes alcohol decreases while body fat increases, causing a significant reduction in muscle mass. Since muscle mass plummets, the impacts of alcohol become more apparent.

Another factor that points out to the toxic effects of alcohol is the accumulation of a substance called acetaldehyde, a byproduct of alcohol metabolism that can be more toxic than alcohol itself. The levels of acetaldehyde are kept at minimal levels by liver enzymes like glutathione and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase. Unfortunately, as people age, the liver produces lesser amounts of glutathione, thereby causing the toxins to build up and make hangovers worse.

Age-related weight loss

Aging is commonly associated with weight loss. While most people think that this is a good thing, it actually is not, at least in terms of battling hangovers. When people lose weight, the body will not be able to distribute all the alcohol consumed hence, resulting in intoxication and hangover.

"Losing weight leads to even worse hangovers," said Dr Yogesh Batra, senior consultant of gastroenterology at BLK Super Specialty Hospital in New Delhi. The effective alcohol concentration in the body will rise thus people who lose weight should begin drinking less alcohol, he added.


Older people also tend to drink less water and become dehydrated, which is another factor that contributes to the occurrence of hangovers.

Drinking too much alcohol may also put a toll on the gastrointestinal system as it may cause gastritis or inflammation of the stomach lining. Thus, experts advise people to eat and drink water before and after drinking alcohol.

Expert advice

So, what does one have do in order to minimize the perils of hangover in the aging population?

Experts said drink in moderation.

"There is no specific guideline for prevention and cure of a hangover. The only way to prevent hangover is to control your drinking habits," said Dr Rajnish Moonga, senior consultant of gastroenterology at Paras Hospital in Gurgaon, India.

Photo: Álvaro Canivell | Flickr

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.