Have your hangovers suddenly gotten worse? Long Covid could be to blame, study suggests

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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People who say they are suffering from ‘long Covid’ may be more likely to suffer from crippling hangovers, a study suggests.

Researchers at Stanford University interviewed people experiencing lingering symptoms months after recovering from a Covid infection and found all were self-reporting more extreme hangovers.

Of the participants, a 49-year-old woman said she had been suffering from long Covid for 11 months and claimed wine now leaves her feeling like she ‘cannot move.’

A 40-year-old woman, who had symptoms of long Covid for three months, said she used to have seven cocktails a night but now can’t even manage one.

Based on the results, the scientists concluded: ‘New-onset alcohol reactions and sensitivity can occur after Covid infection in patients with [long Covid].’  

They warned the virus and inflammation in the body may weaken the blood-brain barrier, which could lead to more severe hangovers because more substances — such as alcohol — are able to enter the brain.

People who say they have long Covid are reporting severe hangovers after drinking alcohol (stock image)

The four patients in the study were recruited from the Post-Acute Covid Syndrome clinic (PACS) at the California university, which treats people with persistent symptoms of the virus.

The CDC estimates more than 3.3million Americans suffer from long Covid, a poorly-defined illness that is notoriously difficult to diagnose.

Patients experience a wide variety of complications including persistent fatigue, brain fog and an inability to carry on with daily life as normal.

In the Stanford study, the 49-year-old woman told doctors she used to have a glass of wine regularly without feeling any side effects.

But now, she said she experiences a ‘bad hangover,’ as well as feeling ‘overwhelmed,’ fatigued and groggy.

The patient had been suffering persistent long Covid symptoms for 11 months, which included fatigue, shortness of breath and a decreased appetite.

She also had type 1 diabetes and was suffering from breast cancer.

In another case, the 40-year-old cocktail drinker said having just one now triggers ‘alcohol poisoning,’ which leads to a three-day-long severe headache and feeling ‘terrible.’

The patient also had Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a genetic condition making tissue more fragile, asthma and high blood pressure.

Her long Covid symptoms were described as persistent cognitive problems and shortness of breath.

The subjects also included a 60-year-old man who said he had previously consumed alcohol twice a month without issues.

But now he was unable to have even one beer, with the study noting: ‘The patient experienced, chronic, daily, headaches characterized by a squeezing sensation at the top and back of the head.’

Long Covid had left him suffering from symptoms including headaches, cognitive impairment and sleep disturbances for five months. He had no underlying conditions.

The fourth person included in the research was a 36-year-old woman with sleep apnea who came to the clinic saying she had been suffering from long Covid for a year.

The woman told doctors she drank socially prior to her infection, but that now even one drink leads to ‘flushing’ of her skin.

While more studies need to be done, researchers hypothesized that hangovers were worse among people with long Covid because the virus and inflammation in the body may weaken the blood-brain barrier.

The brain-blood barrier is a semipermeable membrane that separates circulating blood from the brain fluid and central nervous system.

Normally, when someone drinks alcohol — the chemical can cause this barrier to become increasingly permeable allowing substances that are normally restricted from entering the brain to reach it, such as toxins and inflammatory chemicals.

In someone with long Covid, scientists believe there are more inflammatory molecules in their bloodstreams — which could lead to heavier hangovers.

While scientists believe long Covid could be linked to the increased severity of hangovers, they said more studies were needed because of their small sample size.

They also pointed out the results were self-reported, with patients not being required to prove a previous Covid infection or their symptoms after drinking.

But they said these still suggested there may be a link between Covid and problems drinking alcohol following an infection.

Their study was published in the journal Cureus.



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