Alcohol is known for causing lots of side effects, including hot flashes. If you’ve ever felt hot after drinking alcohol, you’re not alone. Some drinks are known to produce a burning sensation in the throat and stomach. Some liquors and spirits are even consumed during the winter and in cold places to warm people up. However, the heat produced by alcohol can become highly uncomfortable if drinking gets out of hand, and if you’ve ever wondered, “why do I feel hot after drinking alcohol,” you should keep reading.
Alcohol makes you feel hot because it speeds up your heart rate and widens the blood vessels, called vasodilation, allowing more blood to flow, and causing the skin to feel warm and flushed. When you drink alcohol, your blood vessels dilate to get rid of the excess heat. When the vessels expand, you might even feel warmer because of the increased blood flow in the vessels under your skin.
While this process makes the skin feel warmer, the widening of blood vessels is actually the body’s way of cooling itself down after alcohol consumption. For this reason, your skin might feel warm after drinking alcohol because your body is simply trying to push the heat out. What’s more, there’s a recognized link between alcohol and low body temperature, which is why drunk people are at risk of hypothermia.
Alcohol hot flashes can also occur if you have a hangover the day after drinking alcohol. During a hangover, your body temperature rises from the low temperature you probably experienced while you were intoxicated. During this time, the body was attempting to cool itself down.
However, hot flashes and drinking alcohol are linked because of hangovers. During this time, your body temperature may slowly rise, along with excessive sweating. Both hot flashes and heavy sweating are signs that you’re hungover. At this point, alcohol has impacted your sympathetic nervous system, triggering your fight-or-flight response and producing physical symptoms.
Feeling hot after drinking alcohol or during a hangover may also lead to symptoms like:
Excessive sweating during a hangover can lead to dehydration. Alcohol itself already causes dehydration, which is a major contributing factor to the symptoms listed above. Excessive sweating during a hangover can further dehydrate the individual, leading to additional symptoms that stem from dehydration itself, such as thirst, weakness, dry mouth, dry eyes, dizziness, and lightheadedness.
Hangover symptoms like excessive sweating, dehydration, and hot flashes can last up to 24 hours after your last drink. The longevity and severity of hangover symptoms depend on how much alcohol was consumed, how dehydrated you are, your age, and other conditions.
On another note, if you experience frequent hangovers or drink heavily and frequently, you might have a more serious issue. If you’re struggling to control your drinking, our Banyan rehab locations offer alcohol addiction treatment that offers you the physical and mental care needed to recover and regain your sobriety.
Hot flashes can also occur during alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal is a common reaction in people with alcohol use disorders when they suddenly stop drinking or go a while without having alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) is usually an uncomfortable process, which is why it’s recommended that people undergo medical detox to safely recover from withdrawal.
Like hangover symptoms, hot flashes and sweating from AWS can also occur because alcohol withdrawal triggers your body’s fight-or-flight response. Although alcohol has a depressing impact on the central nervous system, during withdrawal the brain may struggle to adjust to the declining sedative impact of alcohol. In response, certain chemicals of excitability that are stamped down by alcohol, like glutamate, suddenly reactivate and lead to symptoms such as increased blood pressure and heat.
Sudden alcohol intolerance is also a cause of hot flashes. This is an uncomfortable flushing reaction that occurs immediately after the person starts drinking. This reaction isn’t a sign of intoxication or drunkenness, but rather it means that your body doesn’t contain the correct enzymes to break down alcohol to a byproduct that’s safe to process.
When these toxic byproducts remain in the body, side effects like flushed skin, nausea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, headache, and more can occur. Women going through menopause also experience hot flashes naturally and drinking alcohol can worsen these symptoms.
If you struggle with binge drinking or alcohol abuse and want to quit, you aren’t alone. We offer various substance abuse services that can help you or a loved one overcome this addiction and regain sobriety. No matter how long you’ve struggled with drug or alcohol abuse, we’re here to help.
From medical alcohol detox to provide a comfortable and safe withdrawal process to individual and group therapy to promote personal healing and offer peer support, our drug and alcohol treatment centers are equipped to handle even the most long-term substance use disorders.