By the time you hit a certain age, one night of partying can lead to hangovers that last two days. It can feel like a betrayal from your own body. But as it turns out, there are plenty of shocking ways alcohol does and does not affect you differently as you age. Those two-day hangovers are just another part of growing older.
And you don't have to be retirement age for these changes to hit you. In many ways, people in their late 20s or early 30s process alcohol differently than people celebrating their 21st birthday. Just a few years can affect the way your body deals with alcohol in a major way.
That said, I'm not trying to be the fun police or scare anyone over the age of 25 away from drinking. Responsibly enjoying adult beverages is a great perk of adulthood. However, there are some real biological reasons why you just can't party as hard as you once did after a certain point. To learn more about this phenomenon, Romper reached out to several medical experts and recovery specialists. They explained why the body doesn't process alcohol as well after a few years. Read on to learn why that single glass of wine affects you a little more strongly.
1. Your Tolerance Decreases
If drinks seem to hit your harder after a certain age, it isn't just your imagination. "Aging usually lowers the body's tolerance of alcohol," says Indra Cidambi, M.D., Medical Director of the Center for Network Therapy. "This is because there is less muscle mass to absorb the alcohol, there is less water in the body which results in high concentration of alcohol in the body, and alcohol takes longer to digest which results in alcohol staying in the body longer." Basically, your whole body loses its alcohol tolerance over time.
2. Your Hangovers Last Longer
Nursing a hangover might take more than popping a couple aspirin the next morning. "Hangovers do last longer, as you age," as Dr. Cidambi tells Romper. "This is because the alcohol stays in the body longer and at higher concentration levels as you age. This leads to longer or more severe hangovers even for the same amount of alcohol consumed as before." Two-day hangovers are very real, and they're terrible.
3. Your Fall Risk Increases
The term "falling down drunk" takes on new dangers over time. Because there is some loss of balance as people age, you're at a greater risk of falls and fractures when drinking, as Dr. Cidambi explains.
4. Your Diabetes Worsens
Some existing health conditions may also be affected by alcohol. For instance, drinking can exacerbate diabetes, says Dr. Cidambi. If you have any concerns about the way alcohol affects your own health conditions, don't hesitate to speak with your doctor for advice.
5. Your BAL Remains Higher Longer
Your total body water, or all the water contained in your bodily fluids, reduces with age. "As this decreases, drinking alcohol will tend to raise our blood alcohol level (BAL) higher, and it will remain high for longer, says Dr. John Dyben, the Chief Clinical Officer of Origins Behavioral HealthCare. "So, if two glasses of wine raise my BAL to .02 in one hour at 25 years old, those exact same glasses of wine will give me a higher BAL for a longer length of time, and it will impact me quicker." In other words, it takes less alcohol to make you drunker faster, and you'll stay drunk longer.
6. You're At Higher Risk Of Liver Problems
Over time, drinking can put so much stress on the liver. "Alcohol is mainly metabolized in the liver and, as people enter their 30s and 40s, that organ becomes bigger but less efficient. Therefore, teenagers who keep drinking into adulthood have a higher risk of developing liver problems," says Jamison Monroe, CEO and Founder of Newport Academy.
7. You Experience More Effects From Dehydration
Alcohol isn't hydrating, and this becomes more evident with age. "We also have less water in our bodies as we get older, making the dehydration caused by alcohol more marked. Dehydration due to alcohol consumption can affect the skin, making it dryer and more wrinkled than that of non-drinkers," as Monroe tells Romper. Whether it's intense dehydration or rougher hangovers, drinking alcohol gets tougher with age.