Anyone who has had a night of heavy drinking alcohol will know, all too well, how hard the morning after can be. A pounding headache, feeling ill and being too tired to get up are all common after-effects of a drinking session.
Another common side effect of drinking heavily is alcohol shakes. Like the other symptoms, these can be common reactions to drinking, but alcohol tremors can point to more serious problems. If you are worried about them, it’s important to know the causes of hangover shakes and the available treatment.
What are Hangover Shakes?
Hangover shakes are when you experience uncontrollable tremors, usually in your hands, after a night of drinking. Tremors can affect your eyes, arms and head also. They are a physical sign of your body experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms – something everyone goes through after a night of heavy drinking.
Regular hangover tremors are a sign of a drinking problem, and people suffering from alcoholism will experience shaking hands when they don’t have enough alcohol in their system. So, if you are just suffering from a hangover, the type of shakes you will experience are likely to be mild tremors, but if you suffer from more intense shaking – it could be a sign of a bigger problem.
Causes of Hangover Shakes
So, what causes hangover shakes? The answer is both psychological and physiological factors can contribute to someone experiencing hangover shakes. For example, if you have a history of anxiety, then when experiencing a hangover, the shakes you suffer from can be worse. This is because alcohol affects your nervous system, increasing the activity of neurotransmitters that make you feel calm. When normal activity resumes in your brain, this can bring on anxiety.
From a physiological perspective, hangovers are essentially a combination of mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Your body has gone through a change in how it operates due to alcohol, and now without it, there are reactions. Your body will be essentially detoxing from alcohol, which can mean symptoms such as fatigue, sickness, headaches, and shakes are all likely to be experienced.
In addition to the above, dehydration caused by drinking can lead to an electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes are key to fluid balance in your body. With more water and an electrolyte balance, your body can work more efficiently. Shaking and tremors are your body’s way of reacting to a disruption to its natural balance.
How Alcohol Affects Your Body
Alcohol affects various organs and systems in the body, which will lead to hangover shakes.
- The brain – Alcohol can change your mood for a while, making your nervous system more relaxed. Afterwards, there is hyperactivity, which can cause hangover shakes.
- The Liver – your liver is responsible for breaking down toxins in your body. If alcohol misuse is frequent, the liver eventually loses its ability to regenerate new cells, which are required to effectively break down these toxins. This will eventually lead to liver disease.
- Metabolism – alcohol can affect your metabolism, leading to low blood sugar. This will lead to fatigue, muscle weakness and mood swings, which can all contribute to alcohol tremors.
- Hormonal balance – alcohol disrupts hormones such as cortisol. Alcohol impacts your adrenal glands which are important to producing steroid hormones needed to regulate blood pressure.
Managing Hangover Shakes
Letting loose with alcohol and dealing with the hangover the next day is a part of life for many people. And you’ll be glad to know that there are many ways to ease your alcohol shakes whilst you undergo a detox.
Alcohol encourages urination, so you become more dehydrated despite drinking a lot of liquid. During a hangover, you may also sweat and vomit, which will also make you more dehydrated. You need water to function properly, so getting liquids back into your body will help the healing processes inside you. Aim for at least 8 glasses of water a day.
Drinking can lower your blood sugar levels. This can be the source of fatigue and headaches you get when hungover, alongside the alcohol tremors, as your body doesn’t have enough fuel. Foods with complex carbohydrates, such as toast, can help balance your blood sugar levels.
You don’t get the right type of sleep when intoxicated. Sleeping off a hangover helps your body heal, and you get the type of deep sleep that your body will be craving. Being more rested will stop you from feeling fatigued and lessen hangover shakes.
On the opposite side of getting more sleep, being active can help. If you are not too tired and nauseous, then the release of endorphins you get from exercising can help you feel more alert and better.
Medications and Supplements
In terms of painkillers to treat a hangover, you’re better off with ibuprofen. Paracetamol is metabolised in the liver, and as that has likely taken a big hit the night before, it’s best not to put it under more stress. Taking supplements with B vitamins and zinc in them can help with your hangover and shakes – encouraging healing in the body and breaking down the ethanol.
Preventing Hangover Shakes
To minimise the risk of experiencing alcohol effects the next day and hangover shakes, there are healthier drinking habits you can adopt.
- Pacing alcohol consumption – drinking slower gives your body time to process the alcohol. Your body can process around 1 drink an hour, so if you kept at this pace, you would be less likely to suffer from hangover tremors the next day.
- Drinking water – drinking alcohol dehydrates you as it encourages urination. By drinking water alongside alcoholic drinks, you stay hydrated, and your body works more efficiently. Because of this, your liver can process the alcohol better and encourage healing processes in your body.
- Eating before drinking – food in your stomach slows down the rate at which your body absorbs alcohol. If drinking on an empty stomach, alcohol gets into your bloodstream quicker, and you feel the effects more heavily.
- Alternative Drink Options – congeners are compounds that are also in alcohol besides ethanol. Lighter-coloured drinks such as vodka, gin, white wine and light beer have fewer congeners and usually lead to less severe hangovers. Darker drinks like red wine, dark beer, whiskey and tequila will cause more severe hangovers. If you must drink, go for something lighter. You can also drink non-alcoholic drinks like mocktails, juice or stick to water.
If you’re finding that you are unable to stick to any of these practices, it may be a sign of a more serious drinking problem that could require professional help – like an alcohol rehab.
When to Seek Professional Help for Alcohol
In most cases, mild hangover shakes aren’t a sign of anything serious. However, as stated, they can be a symptom of alcohol withdrawal. This is more likely to be the case if you drink excessive amounts on a regular basis.
If hangover shakes are combined with other symptoms, such as confusion and seizures, with your shaking persisting for 24 hours – this could be an indication of something more serious. When this happens, it is important to get in touch with a medical professional, such as your GP. They can provide you with medical assistance and may point you in the direction of professional help for your alcohol addiction.
Getting help in a drug and alcohol rehab is the best way to achieve long-term recovery and stop yourself from suffering from hangover shakes. Rehab Clinics Group operates several centres around the country, able to provide industry-leading addiction treatment.
With us, you can take part in our range of therapies to learn the psychological causes behind your problems and learn coping methods. Even after you leave, you can get access to a personalised aftercare programme that is a great resource during the first year of sobriety.
Get Help Today
Hangover shakes can be simply one part of a hangover. Severe tremors that happen more regularly almost certainly point towards a serious drinking problem. If you are suffering from alcohol tremors and think you need help, contact Rehab Clinics Group today.