Does Alcohol Dehydrate You? Understanding The Health Risks

Or it might damage the nerves and tiny hairs in your inner ear that help you hear. However it happens, drinking means you need a sound to be louder so you can hear it. Drinking heavily for a long time has been linked to hearing loss. Alcohol can lead to a body-water deficit, and knowing how it affects your hydration status is essential for controlling how much and how often you have it. If caffeinated drinks are your go-to for getting your day started, you can rest knowing they won’t significantly dehydrate you.

does alcohol dehydrate you

During a hangover, a person’s attention, decision-making, and muscle coordination can all be impaired. Also, the ability to perform important tasks, such as driving, operating machinery, or caring for others can be negatively affected. Vitamin B12 helps increase your energy level and will help your body to function and recover properly from a night on the town. That’s why it’s so important to drink responsibly and have a hydration game plan in place (more on that later) for nights when you indulge. These foods also have the bonus of being easy on the digestive system if yours is upset from drinking too much alcohol. Dehydration is also a big part of why you get a hangover after drinking too much.


One night of binge drinking can jumble the electrical signals that keep your heart’s rhythm steady. If you do it for years, you can make those heart rhythm changes permanent and cause what’s called arrhythmia. Over time, it causes heart muscles to droop and stretch, like an old rubber band. Your heart can’t pump blood as well, and that impacts every part of your body.

  • On the other hand, long-term heavy drinking boosts your blood pressure.
  • “Essentially, when you’re dehydrated, you’ll feel alcohol’s effects sooner and for longer,” Pfau says.
  • In other words, try to drink as much water as possible, because your normal retention rate isn’t going to be what your body’s used to.
  • If you drink six to 10 standard drinks, this could lead to 600–1,000 mL of lost fluids, causing dehydration.

Similarly, taking certain medications, such as diuretics or antihistamines, can exacerbate alcohol’s dehydrating effects. The NIAA standards are based on beers that are 5 percent ABV, wine that is 12 percent ABV, and hard spirits that are 40 percent ABV. But it’s important to note that many alcoholic beverages exceed those concentrations. Craft beers can be particularly misleading because while they have an ABV closer to that of wine, they’re generally served in much larger portions.

Healthy, Portable Foods to Bring on Your Next Camping Trip

Reducing your alcohol consumption overhaul will help you avoid some of the bigger health risks from long-term dehydration and drinking. Electrolytes are minerals in the body that help regulate fluid balance. Alcohol can disrupt electrolyte balance, which can contribute to dehydration. Specifically, alcohol can lower levels of potassium and magnesium, two important electrolytes. Low levels of electrolytes can lead to muscle cramps, weakness, and fatigue.

Although many remedies for alleviating hangovers are mentioned on the web and in social media, none have been scientifically proven to be effective. There is no magic potion for beating hangovers—and only time can help. A person must wait for the body to finish clearing the toxic byproducts of alcohol metabolism, to rehydrate, to heal irritated tissue, and to restore immune and brain activity to normal.

Eat hydrating foods

If you’ve ever heard the term, “breaking the seal,” you know that alcohol has a diuretic effect on the body, meaning it causes you to urinate more frequently. The process is called diuresis, which on its own causes dehydration [1]. That impact shows very little relationships between alcohol and dehydration, and it’s not just one thing. To truly understand it, we need to continue investigating the full spectrum of issues our bodies actually deal with, without defaulting to long-held but, unfortunately, untrue assumptions.

How much alcohol does it take to dehydrate you?

Studies reveal that adult men and women should drink no more than four standard drinks on any one occasion. Above that is considered excess. If you drink six to 10 standard drinks, this could lead to 600–1,000 mL of lost fluids, causing dehydration.

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