Genetic Factors in Hangovers: Is Susceptibility Inherited?

Genetic Factors in Hangovers: Is Susceptibility Inherited?

1. The Science of Hangovers

Hangovers have perplexed the medical community for years. While typically characterized by headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and sensitivity to light and sound, the exact cause of these symptoms post-alcohol consumption remains a topic of research.

2. The Role of Genetics in Alcohol Metabolism

Genetics plays a profound role in how our bodies process alcohol. The liver primarily metabolizes alcohol, breaking it down into acetaldehyde, a toxic substance, which is then further broken down into harmless acetate. The speed and efficiency of this process are dictated by our genes.

3. ALDH2 and ADH Variations

Genes that encode for enzymes ALDH2 and ADH are primarily responsible for alcohol metabolism. People with certain genetic variations might produce less of these enzymes, leading to acetaldehyde accumulation in the bloodstream. This buildup exacerbates hangover symptoms and can cause facial flushing shortly after drinking.

4. Genetic Link to Immune Response

Drinking can elicit an immune response, causing symptoms like memory problems and a decreased ability to concentrate. Certain genetic markers might heighten this inflammatory response, making hangovers feel even worse for some individuals.

5. Genetics and Congener Sensitivity

Congeners, which are byproducts of alcohol fermentation, can intensify hangover symptoms. Some research suggests that genetics can make certain individuals more sensitive to congeners, leading to severe hangovers even with moderate alcohol consumption.

6. Genes and Alcohol-Induced Sleep Disruptions

While alcohol might make you fall asleep faster, it's also linked to disrupted REM cycles, leading to grogginess the next day. Genetic factors can influence how significantly alcohol impacts your sleep quality.

7. Beyond Genetics: Other Contributing Factors

While genetics plays a key role, other factors like age, gender, overall health, and drinking habits also influence hangover severity. For instance, mixing drinks or drinking on an empty stomach can exacerbate hangover symptoms irrespective of your genetic makeup.


Genetics offers a fascinating lens to understand why some of us suffer more than others after a night out. By understanding our body's unique response to alcohol, we can make informed choices and potentially mitigate some unwelcome morning-after effects. Additionally, supporting your body with antioxidants can aid in the recovery process. Consider taking Afternoon's Liposomal Glutathione to help detoxify and protect against the oxidative stress caused by alcohol consumption.

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