Alcohol poisoning is a serious issue, leading to an estimated six fatalities per day in the US. If you believe that you have alcohol poisoning, you should seek medical attention ASAP.

The problem is that sometimes, a bad hangover can mimic some of the effects of alcohol poisoning without posing the same threat to your health. How can you tell the difference between a hangover vs alcohol poisoning?

Today, we’re going to talk about the primary differences between these two ailments and what you should do about them.

Read on to learn more in our hangover vs alcohol poisoning guide.

What Is a Hangover?

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When you drink more alcohol than your body can process quickly, those toxins stick around. Not only does the slow filtering of these toxins cause physical and mental symptoms of mild withdrawal, but the accompanying dehydration that occurs after binge drinking takes its own toll. Symptoms of a hangover include:

  • fatigue
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • headache
  • thirst and dry mouth
  • dizziness or trembling
  • muscle aches
  • increased anxiety or depressive feelings
  • mental fog or confusion

These symptoms are a reaction to inflammation, irritation in the stomach lining, low blood sugar levels, and more. These symptoms can last anywhere from a few hours to a full day.

What Is Alcohol Poisoning?

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Unlike a hangover, which sets in once you’ve ceased drinking, alcohol poisoning typically sets in while you’re still drinking or soon after you’ve stopped. Alcohol poisoning is a reaction to drinking far more alcohol than the liver can handle. Symptoms include:

  • extreme mental confusion or loss of consciousness
  • severe vomiting
  • irregular breathing
  • decreased body temperature and chills
  • low blood pressure
  • high heart rate
  • seizures

Untreated alcohol poisoning can cause organ failure, but the most common cause of death from alcohol poisoning is a subdued gag reflex that causes people to choke on their own vomit.

What to Do About a Hangover vs Alcohol Poisoning


To treat a hangover, you will need to rest, hydrate, and replenish the body. Eating healthy foods with a moderate to high salt content is a good place to start. Oftentimes, you will simply need to wait for your body to filter out the remaining toxins and sleep off the remaining fatigue.

To treat alcohol poisoning, you will need to go to the hospital. A patient suffering from alcohol poisoning may require forced oxygen, an IV drip, and a stomach pump.

If you experience either of these ailments on a regular basis, it’s time to examine your relationship with alcohol. Consider the Sinclair method to decrease your alcohol consumption. If you have developed a serious addiction to alcohol, talk to a detox and rehabilitation specialist.

Manage Your Drinking Habits for Better Health

Understanding the difference between a hangover vs alcohol poisoning can save lives. Keep this guide handy and seek the treatment you need if you believe that you’re suffering from alcohol poisoning.

Looking for more important health information? Take a look at our health and fitness content to get in touch with your body and what it needs.

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