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What happens chemically that causes a hangover?

Hangovers are believed to be caused by the buildup of acetaldehyde. This aldehyde is formed from the oxidation of ethanol, which is of course the “alcohol” you drank in the first place. Acetaldehyde is an intermediate in your body’s process for dealing with all that booze you drank last night. An enzyme, acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, further oxidizes acetaldehyde to acetic acid.

Of course there are a lot of other factors that might make you feel terrible the morning after a big night out. Your liver gets pretty taxed dealing with all of the toxins, which is why some people think that distilled alcohol (which removes heavier molecules in the alcoholic beverage) leads to less severe hangovers.


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