Why Do You Feel Hungover When You Don't Drink?

Hangover from drinking alcohol is very common. A little too much fun the night before and your head hurts and you feel nauseous. This is a very normal reaction to drinking too much alcohol. If you are feeling hungover without drinking, something may be going on that you need to look into. Hangover symptoms include vomiting, feeling weak, increased thirst, and light sensitivity. If you have these things going on and you didn't take a sip of alcohol, you can try a few things to perk yourself up.

Is It Possible to Feel Hungover Without Drinking?

Yes, it is possible and there are a few different reasons why you may be feeling so. It could be as simple as dehydration, or something that needs a doctor's attention.

1. Sugar Hangover

Eating too much sugar can affect your body in many ways, including feeling hungover without drinking. When you eat too much sugar, your body may have the following symptoms the next day:

  • Brain fog or "fuzzy head"
  • Feeling fatigued
  • Stomach discomfort such as bloating, nausea, and vomiting
  • Loose stools
  • Headache
  • Mood swings

2. Sleep Medications

Sleeping medications often have a side-effect known as the "hangover effect." The symptoms of sleep medication hangover include:

  • Feeling groggy when waking
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Foggy head
  • Nausea
  • Trouble waking up

3. Viral Illness

The onset of a viral illness known as the "prodromal period" may mimic feeling hungover without drinking. This is usually a short period before the actual symptoms of the viral illness appear. This usually occurs with viruses like mononucleosis, influenza, common colds, and gastrointestinal illness. Prodromal symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Body aches

4. Gut Fermentation Syndrome

This rare syndrome causes the abdomen to produce ethanol naturally. Researchers have identified a type of yeast in the gut that causes the syndrome. The body naturally produces a type of alcohol that can have an intoxicating effect without even drinking. The symptoms include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness

5. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome can cause unrestful sleep that may make you wake up feeling hungover and still tired the next day. Rest does not seem to help people with CFS and this feeling can last for weeks, to months, to years. Researchers have not yet found a cause and treatments are only now starting to emerge. Symptoms of CFS include:

  • Headaches
  • Brain fog or trouble concentrating
  • Feeling like you are ill after exercise
  • Body aches
  • Feeling hungover without drinking
  • Feeling unrested in the morning

6. Caffeine Withdrawal

If you have decided to give up your morning "cup of joe" you may experience symptoms very similar to a hangover. If you have been drinking a fairly large amount of caffeine every day, caffeine withdrawals can cause symptoms like:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling tired and weak early in the day
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Brain fog

7. Migraine Headache

A migraine headache does not always begin with just head pain. Migraines have an "aura" that can be a range of feelings before they start. An aura isn't necessarily something you see, but something that you feel before the pain comes on. Symptoms of a migraine aura include:

  • Fuzzy or blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue

8. Generalized Fatigue

If you wake up feeling hungover, you may have just overdone things the day before. Feeling overtired can sometimes cause other symptoms other than just fatigue. This is the result of pushing your body past its limits. Symptoms of generalized fatigue include:

  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Trouble remembering things
  • No energy
  • Feeling achy

How to Deal with It

If you wake up feeling hungover without drinking and just a little "under the weather," you can most likely take care of things at home pretty easy with home remedies. If you feel hungover and you think you may be coming down with something, there are a few things you can do like:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. A hungover type feeling is very often the first sign of dehydration. If you didn't drink enough fluids the day before, start catching up at the first sign of feeling unwell. Wake up and drink a full glass of water before you even have a morning cup of coffee. Then space glasses of water evenly throughout the day.
  • Take a rest day. If you overdid things the day before, you may be feeling hungover signs due to fatigue. This may be a sign to take a day off of life and rest.
  • Try some vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 can help give your body natural energy. It can also help take away that "hungover" feeling. Foods that contain B12 include meat, fish, dairy, and eggs. You can also try a good B complex vitamin supplement.

If you are unable to shake the hangover feeling, you may need to see your doctor. Medical treatments that can help include:

  • Vitamin B12 injections: If you are continually experiencing symptoms of feeling hungover without drinking, you may need vitamin B12 injections which are given by your doctor.
  • Anti-Nausea medication: The feeling of nausea can easily be treated with anti-nausea medications. These also help you sleep until you feel better if you are feeling this way from a virus.
  • Medication for dizziness: If you wake up feeling dizzy, there are medications to help this sensation. Dizziness often accompanies migraines and viral infections temporarily in the beginning. Your doctor can give you medication to calm things down.
  • Intravenous fluids for dehydration: Dehydration that can't be resolved just by drinking water may need IV fluid replacement. This can rehydrate your body quickly and usually takes away the feeling of hungover.
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