So all you did last night was drink one too many glasses of pinot noir over a charcuterie board with some friends, but your muscles are sore like you ran a 15K. Coincidence? Not at all.
Sounds like you have a hangover and you’re experiencing one of the not-so-pleasant side effects of too much alcohol.
Along with those brutal headaches, nausea, and anxiety, a hangover can bring along muscle aches, too. Ouch is right.
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So how does drinking too much cause this all-over pain?
If you had dehydration on the mind (which is also behind your desire to chug multiple water bottles), you’re not wrong.
Dr. Audrey Sue Cruz, MD, a hospitalist at Loma Linda University Medical Center, noted that dehydration paired with electrolyte imbalances could be one reason behind the soreness.
“Alcohol causes the body to increase its urinary output through the antidiuretic hormone, causing the kidney to increase urine production,” Dr. Cruz said. “Thus, even though a person may be drinking large quantities of alcohol, their bodies are being depleted of water and important electrolytes including potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium.”
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Sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea can also occur during a hangover and can make dehydration worse, Dr. Cruz added.
Dr. Daniel Kim, DO at Medical Offices of Manhattan, added that soreness is a common hangover symptom, especially if you’re not drinking enough water alongside that alcohol.
Lactic acid is also a potential factor behind muscle soreness after a night of drinking, Dr. Cruz said, as “alcohol consumption can cause a mild interference with the breakdown of lactic acid, which can worsen soreness after a night of drinking.”
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And according to Dr. Kim, the body’s breakdown of alcohol into toxic metabolites and overall increased inflammation in the body could be behind the soreness after one too many drinks.
Unfortunately, there’s no quick answer to how many glasses of wine or beer cause this side effect.
“It usually depends on the person and their ability to metabolize alcohol and its toxic byproducts,” Dr. Kim noted.
But if you do wake up with this discomfort? Hair of the dog is definitely not the answer. Instead, reach for a glass of water.
“Make sure to replenish all the lost fluids from excessive alcohol intake,” Dr. Kim said. “Stay up on drinking water throughout the day and get plenty of rest. Only time can cure a painful hangover.”
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