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  • Alcohol causes dehydration if you are not careful with your drinking habits.

    Alcohol is a diuretic that makes you urinate more frequently. Urinating more frequently can lead to dehydration during and after a night of drinking.

    Drinking responsibly can reduce your chances of getting dehydrated after drinking alcohol. Drinking water, putting electrolytes in your body, and reducing the amount of alcohol you drink can help you avoid dehydration.

    How Alcohol Leads To Dehydration

    Alcohol’s diuretic effects work by decreasing the production of vasopressin. 

    Vasopressin is an antidiuretic hormone (ADH) that causes the kidneys to hold on to fluid. With less vasopressin in your system, you may experience diuresis (more frequent urination) while your body loses more fluids.

    Increased urination and losing body fluid can lead to dehydration. This is especially likely if you are not keeping up your fluid intake to make up for the lost fluid. If you are intoxicated, you may be too impaired to do simple tasks like drinking water, making rehydration more difficult.

    What The Research Says

    Drinking alcohol and how it may affect urine output, your kidneys, and hydration levels is still somewhat unknown. Some studies suggest that alcohol may not cause diuresis if a person is both dehydrated and has a high blood alcohol concentration.

    Other studies have concluded that high alcohol content in an alcoholic drink is the most important factor leading to dehydration. Still, others suggest that alcohol use can cause long-term issues with water retention and electrolyte imbalance.

    The potentially dehydrating effects of alcohol and related risk factors may need more research.

    Side Effects Of Alcohol-Related Dehydration

    Some side effects of dehydration can be felt right away, while others may not happen until the next morning. Side effects can include:

    • headache
    • dry mouth
    • decreased urination
    • dark-colored urine
    • hangovers

    Hangovers

    Hangovers happen the next day after you drink a high amount of alcohol. Hangover symptoms are unpleasant and may include nausea, tiredness, headaches, vertigo, and sensitivity to light and sound.

    Tips To Avoid Alcohol-Related Dehydration

    When you drink alcohol, you may be told to drink plenty of water too. Drinking water is a simple way of hydrating yourself and replacing the fluids you lose through urination.

    If you still feel dehydrated during or after a night of drinking, you may be thinking about other options. You may feel like you are simply urinating out the excess water you are drinking.

    When your body loses large amounts of water through urination, it can also lose electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. Electrolytes play an important role in hydration. Many sports drinks have these electrolytes, and maybe more effective to hydrate you than a glass of water.

    Dehydration & Other Severe Effects Of Alcohol

    Dehydration is the only one way alcohol can be harmful to your health. Even after one standard drink (like a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 12 ounce can of beer), you may be putting yourself at risk for effects like dehydration, impairment, and problems with your decision-making.

    Some alcohol-related problems may need long-term treatment due to their seriousness. If you think you are at risk of alcohol’s long-term effects, treatment can help. Contact us today to learn more.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2022 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Medically Reviewed by
    Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS
    on August 11, 2021
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