Hangovers Get Worse As You Get Older — But Not For The Reason You Think

As anyone over the age of 25 will tell you, the glory days of drinking will come to an end. You knew it couldn't last forever — in college, you might have felt fine the morning after a night of tequila shots and pizza. But eventually, you're going to find yourself waking up groggy after two glasses of wine, wondering why your head hurts after a night of watching bad TV.


Some alcohols are guaranteed to give you worse hangovers than others, but it's time to face facts: You're going to get older. And all of your hangovers are going to get worse.

You might think your age is to blame — that you just can't handle booze like you used to. But while your age certainly isn't helping things, it's not the biggest cause of the dreadful, pounding headaches and the onslaught of nausea.

"Age may be a proxy for regularity of drinking," Dr. Lara Ray recently told The New York Times. "If you haven't gone to a party for two to three weeks, it might be less about being 40 and more about your drinking history."

The reason for your intolerance to alcohol is simple: You just don't drink that much anymore.

Before you laugh and retort your raucous tales of office holiday parties and drinking more than you should at your age, put things into perspective. In college, how many times per week were you drinking? Probably more than you are now. And when you drink less often, your body gets less practice at metabolizing and dealing with the alcohol.

In other words, you get worse hangovers.


Some scientists surmise that factors such as body composition and liver changes could make things worse. The less muscle and the more fat you have on your body, the longer alcohol remains in your system. Additionally, your liver enzymes can deplete as you age, making alcohol processing less efficient. These body changes could impact the severity of your hangovers — but the science on these suspicions is inconclusive.

One thing's for sure: Your hangovers aren't getting any better. So should you drink more often into your old age to stave them off? Maybe — unlike these other alcohol facts that just aren't true, we can't say for sure.