Going beyond just slowing you down, many people are unaware of the dangerous effects which alcohol can have on a worker’s ability the following day.
Typically, the impact of alcohol can last anywhere between eight and 24 hours – a sobering thought for anyone operating machinery or working on site following on from a boozy session.
The after effects include dizziness, nausea, lethargy and problems concentrating, head, body and muscle aches, depression, vomiting and erratic muscle function.
Severe dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance are largely responsible for these symptoms as our bodies attempt to remove alcoholic toxins from our systems.
Observing alcohol consumption guidelines will help though. The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends that men and women consume no more than two “standard” drinks per day (your average bottle of beer is around 1.5 standard drinks) to reduce lifetime risk of harm and four “standard” drinks on any single occasion to “reduce the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion”.
However, even this is likely to result in reduced cognitive function even if the more severe symptoms such as headache and nausea are not present.
Why alcohol causes dehydration
Alcohol is metabolised in the liver, which produces enzymes to break it down before it is absorbed by the cells. However, the liver can only break down a limited amount of alcohol per hour (approximately one bottle of beer or about 150ml of wine), so excess alcohol accumulates in our bodies and leads to side effects such as sweating, contributing to dehydration.
Alcohol also inhibits our ability to produce the anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), which helps the kidneys manage the amount of water in your body. When ADH levels drop, our kidneys are affected and the body produces more urine leading to further loss of fluids from our system.
Increased urination also depletes the levels of electrolytes in our bodies, including sodium, magnesium and potassium, which can lead to an electrolyte imbalance which has been linked to other hangover symptoms such as headaches, nausea and body aches.
Preventing or reducing the hangover
Given a hangover is largely caused by dehydration, if you are drinking more than a couple of standard drinks, alternating alcoholic beverages with water throughout the evening should help to reduce the damage.
Additionally, an electrolyte solution such as THORZT can work to counteract the negative effects of alcohol.
Workers should also be trained on the importance of hydration at work and the causes, signs, symptoms and dangers of dehydration, including alcohol consumption.
This is an adaptation of an article originally published at Thorzt.