Have your hangovers suddenly gotten worse? Long Covid could be to blame, research suggests

People who say they are suffering from ‘long Covid’ may be more likely to suffer a crippling hangover, a study suggests.

Researchers from Stanford University interviewed people who suffered from lingering symptoms months after recovering from a Covid infection and found that they all self-reported having more extreme hangovers.

Of the participants, a 49-year-old woman said she had been suffering from long Covid-19 for 11 months and claimed that wine now makes her feel like she ‘can’t move’.

A 40-year-old woman, who had had symptoms of long Covid-19 for three months, said she used to drink seven cocktails a night but now can’t manage even one.

Based on the results, the scientists concluded: ‘New alcohol reactions and sensitivity may occur after Covid infection in patients with (long Covid).’

They warned that the virus and inflammation in the body could weaken the blood-brain barrier, which could lead to more severe hangovers as more substances – such as alcohol – can enter the brain.

People who say they’ve had Covid for a long time report severe hangovers after drinking alcohol (stock image)

The four patients in the study were recruited from the University of California’s Post-Acute Covid Syndrome Clinic (PACS), which treats people with persistent symptoms of the virus.

The CDC estimates that more than 3.3 million Americans are suffering from long-term Covid-19, an ill-defined disease that is notoriously difficult to diagnose.

Patients experience a wide range of complications, including persistent fatigue, brain fog, and the inability to continue daily life normally.

In the Stanford study, the 49-year-old woman told doctors that she regularly drank a glass of wine without experiencing side effects.

But now she said she had one ‘bad hangover’, but also ‘overwhelmed’, tired and dizzy.

The patient had been suffering from persistent, long-term Covid symptoms for eleven months, including fatigue, shortness of breath and loss of appetite.

She also had type 1 diabetes and suffered from breast cancer.

In another case, the 40-year-old cocktail drinker said drinking just one cocktail now causes ‘alcohol poisoning’, leading to a severe headache and feeling ‘awful’ for three days.

The patient also had Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a genetic condition that makes tissue more fragile, asthma and high blood pressure.

Her long-term Covid symptoms were described as persistent cognitive problems and shortness of breath.

The test subjects also included a 60-year-old man who said he previously drank alcohol twice a month without any problems.

But now he couldn’t even drink a beer, and the examination revealed: “The patient had daily chronic headaches, characterized by a pinching sensation at the top and back of the head.”

Long Covid had caused him to suffer from symptoms such as headaches, cognitive impairment and sleep disorders for five months. He had no underlying conditions.

The fourth person involved in the study was a 36-year-old woman with sleep apnea who came to the clinic saying she had been suffering from long Covid-19 for a year.

The woman told doctors that she drank socially prior to the infection, but now even one drink causes her skin to ‘flush’.

Although more research needs to be done, researchers hypothesized that hangovers were worse in people with a long Covid-19 bout, because the virus and inflammation in the body can weaken the blood-brain barrier.

The cerebral blood barrier is a semipermeable membrane that separates the circulating blood from the cerebrospinal fluid and the central nervous system.

When someone drinks alcohol, the chemical can normally cause this barrier to become increasingly permeable, allowing substances that normally cannot enter the brain to reach this barrier, such as toxins and inflammatory chemicals.

In someone with a long Covid-19 period, scientists think there are more inflammatory molecules in their bloodstreams – which could lead to more severe hangovers.

Although scientists believe a long bout of Covid-19 could be linked to increased severity of hangovers, they said more studies were needed due to the small sample size.

They also pointed out that the results were self-reported, with patients not required to prove a previous Covid infection or their symptoms after drinking.

But they said these still suggested there may be a link between Covid and problems drinking alcohol after an infection.

Their research was published in the journal Cureus.