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The difference between a hangover and alcohol poisoning

Readers Lounge By Audrey Masitsa
A night partying with friends often leads to a nasty hangover the morning after (Photo: Shutterstock)

If you’re a drinker, you probably know the effects of a night of hard fun with friends. 

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Hangovers are a common result the morning after. Even after getting a few hours of sleep, you wake up feeling worse, and all you want to do is hide under the covers.

Alcohol poisoning howeve,r is much worse. Whereas you will experience a hangover the morning after, alcohol poisoning occurs while you’re drinking and can be fatal.

Let’s look at the difference between the two.

Hangovers

Hangovers are commonly characterised by extreme thirst, a thumping headache, fatigue, nausea, weakness, irritable stomach, inability to focus and sensitivity to light among others. 

You can treat a hangover and recover from it within a day. Common treatment involves:

  • Drinking plenty of water 
  • Eating a healthy meal rather than greasy food which can further irritate the stomach
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Taking painkillers to reduce the headache
A common symptom of alcohol poisoning is the inability to wake up (Photo: Shutterstock)

Alcohol poisoning

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Whereas you can recover from a hangover within a day or so, it takes longer to recover from alcohol poisoning. 

Common symptoms of alcohol poisoning or overdose include:

  • Inability to wake up even when roused severally
  • Drop in body temperature
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting 
  • Severe dehydration
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fingers and lips that appear blue

A person who suffers from alcohol poisoning must be taken to the hospital immediately. Accompany them because the medical professionals will require information such as the type of alcohol they drank and when they started drinking. 

Responsible drinking

Drinking in itself is not bad, if done responsibly. To help reduce the risk of alcohol poisoning and hangovers, avoid binge drinking, ensure you have eaten a proper meal before you start drinking (or during the night out), drink water as you drink to reduce dehydration and pace yourself. Drink slowly and stay within your limits.

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