Hangovers are multifactorial events induced by alcohol consumption. The causes include dehydration and hypoglycemia. However, in light of the results of a fascinating new research study, I wonder if hangovers (like almost everything else) are partly an infectious disease.
What Bala and colleagues at the University of Louisville discovered is that when healthy adults binge drink, they have transiently increased levels of endotoxin--a bacterial product--in their blood. This result is likely due to the effect alcohol has on the barrier functions of the gut which normally keep bacteria from translocating into the blood stream. When these products enter the bloodstream, they set off an inflammatory cascade.
I wonder what role this inflammation has in the physical symptoms experienced during a hangover. Maybe the oft-reached for ibuprofen and naproxen may actually be dampening the inflammation.
The general lesson I draw is, since we are compromised of more bacterial cells than human, any perturbation of the homeostasis achieved with our microbiome is likely to have repercussions for our overall health status.