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What Are Hangover Shakes And Tremors?

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Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 6/02/2022

Drinking large quantities of alcohol can lead to a hangover, which is often uncomfortable. Many people have experienced an ordinary hangover but some hangovers can have more intense symptoms that include shakes and tremors. In fact, there’s a name for the shaky feeling that people get during hangovers and it’s called the hangover shakes. Below is everything you need to know about hangover shakes and tremors. This includes the causes, treatments, and dangers of hangover shakes. 

What are the Causes of Hangover Shakes?

Hangover shakes can have several causes depending on the person. Some research suggests that hangover shakes are similar to tremors and shakes that can occur from alcohol withdrawal. Because alcohol interacts with the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), when it exits the body the central nervous system can have trouble adjusting to receptors in the brain returning to normal. When the body can’t maintain a chemical balance in the brain without alcohol, the central nervous system responds to the stress with increased heart rate, shakes, tremors, and sweating.

The problem is that alcohol binds to the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and reduces the sensitivity of those receptors. As a response, the body increases the number of sensitivity sensors that bind to another neurotransmitter, glutamate. The body does this to ward off alcohol’s intoxicating effects that lead to drowsiness. Another potential cause of hangover shakes is changes in blood sugar levels. When the body has low blood sugar it can lead to shaking and tremors. Alcohol can lower blood sugar and cause these issues.

Hangover Shakes can also be caused by alcohol withdrawal. For serious cases of alcoholism (abusing alcohol for many years), withdrawal symptoms can begin in as little as a few hours after the last alcoholic drink. People who have alcohol withdrawal can experience shaking, tremors, changes in blood sugar, sweating, and other health problems.

What are the Relations between Alcohol Shakes and Blood Sugar Levels?

A person’s blood sugar level is a measurement of how much glucose is concentrated in the blood. Normal blood sugar levels can vary from person to person but the average blood sugar level for a healthy individual (non-diabetic) is between 70 and 99 mg/dl.

However, alcohol can interact with blood sugar and cause blood sugar levels to drop. When someone has below-average blood sugar, shakes and tremors can occur. Therefore, people with low blood sugar have a higher risk of experiencing hangover shakes.

What are the Common Symptoms of Hangover Shakes?

Hangover shakes can have many symptoms. While shakes and tremors are the most notable symptom of hangover shakes, people can also experience other health issues. The common symptoms of hangover shakes are listed below.

  • Shakes and tremors
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness 
  • Feeling light-headed
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue 
  • Dry mouth
  • Flushing 
  • Stomach discomfort 
  • Vomiting

Because hangover shakes are a symptom of a hangover, hangover shakes often occur with normal hangover symptoms.

How Long Do Hangover Symptoms Last?

Symptoms of a hangover can last for between 24 and 48 hours. Typically, most hangover symptoms improve after about 4-6 hours. That said, when someone binge drinks or consumes a lot of alcohol in one night it can lead to hangovers that last for up to 48 hours. These severe hangovers are known as two-day hangovers. If a hangover causes tremors and shakes these symptoms can last for an entire day or longer.

Are Hangover Shakes Dangerous?

Hangover shakes and tremors can be dangerous. Shakes and tremors can be a cause for concern when someone who abuses alcohol suddenly stops drinking alcohol. In this case, hangover shakes are symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Tremors and shakes during alcohol withdrawal can be a sign of delirium tremens, which can be fatal if not treated by a medical professional. If you or a loved one is concerned about hangover shakes you should contact a medical professional. Hangover shakes can also be a sign of low blood sugar, which can cause complications with the heart and other organs.

How do Hangover Shakes Feel?

Hangover shakes vary from person to person. Many people feel hangover shakes in their hands and fingers. However, hangover shakes can also cause the eyes, arms, and head to shake. In fact, some people can even experience shaking in their voices during a hangover. Hangover shakes can also occur with other symptoms like sweating, tremors, headache, stomach discomfort, vomiting, and even diarrhea.

The duration of hangover shakes also varies based on the person. Some people can have hangover shakes that last for a few hours, hangover shakes can last for up to 24 or 48 hours. This is especially true if someone who was abusing alcohol experiences alcohol withdrawal during a hangover. People who frequently abuse alcohol are also more likely to experience shaking during hangovers.

What Is the Difference between Delirium Tremens and Hangover Shakes?

Hangover shakes and delirium tremens are different conditions. Delirium tremens is a rare condition that only occurs in 1% of people that are experiencing alcohol withdrawal. It’s also important to note that delirium tremens are symptoms of alcohol withdrawal; they can last for up to 2 weeks and require medical supervision.

On the other hand, hangover shakes are caused by a hangover from alcohol consumption. Hangover shakes are milder than delirium tremens and typically go away after a few hours.

How to Get Rid of Hangover Shakes

Hangover Shakes can be challenging to treat. The good news is that there are some methods to get rid of hangover shakes. While these methods won’t instantly cure hangover shakes they can speed up the process. Methods for getting rid of hangover shakes are listed below.

  • Rest up 
  • Eat something 
  • Stay hydrated 
  • Quit drinking

More information on these treatment methods can be found below.

1. Rest Up

One of the best ways to get rid of hangover shakes is to rest. Resting gives the body time to recover from exposure to alcohol, which can take hours or days to clear from the body. If you’re suffering from hangover shakes, attempting to “sweat it out” is ineffective and counterproductive. Instead, remain in bed or at home. You can also use medications like aspirin to reduce headache pain.

2. Eat Something

Blood sugar levels drop rapidly when there’s no food in the body. Because low blood sugar is a common cause of hangover shakes, eating something that’s nutrient-dense is a great idea. Nutrient-dense meals incorporate a healthy balance of carbs, fats, and proteins. While many people are tempted to consume greasy foods or pound “hangover drinks,” these methods are ineffective and can make a hangover worse. For example, eating something with a lot of greases can cause the stomach to be more acidic. Alcohol also causes acidity in the stomach, so mixing the two is a recipe for disaster; not a hangover cure.

3. Stay Hydrated

When alcohol causes a hangover one of the main factors is hydration. Hydration is important when consuming alcohol because alcohol is a diuretic, which means it increases the urge to pee. However, this process causes the kidneys to release too much water. Unfortunately, the result is dehydration. For this reason, many doctors and medical professionals suggest drinking a glass of water with every alcoholic beverage you consume. Doing so can reduce the symptoms of a hangover and even prevent them from occurring. Therefore, one of the best ways to get rid of hangover shakes is to hydrate with water. That said, using sports drinks like Gatorade can help you restore the body’s electrolytes.

4. Quit Drinking

One of the best ways to make sure hangover shakes never happen is to quit drinking alcohol. When too much alcohol is consumed it damages the body, creates dehydration, and takes a long time to process. Keep in mind that alcohol consumption causes hangovers and hangover shakes, so avoiding the substance can help you address the problem.

Following these tips can help you prevent hangovers, cure hangovers, and make hangovers more tolerable. However, having a hangover is a sign of drinking issues like binge drinking. If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism, it’s important to find treatment as soon as possible.