December 2nd, 2010


Next, on Letterman: Stupid Metabolism Tricks

Yesterday, I asked myself a question that's come up a few times over the last few months: why do I feel hung over when I haven't had any alcohol? I had a headache that acetaminophen barely touched, and it stuck around all day, finally fading some time around 2300 hours.1

(Oddly, I seldom get hangovers when I've actually imbibed. Usually, I'm very careful to cut myself off well before bedtime, and to drink copious water before hitting the hoard. I usually add a single aspirin to my usual nighttime meds, as well.)

Since a goodly part of the ill effects of hangover come from dehydration, I've been assuming that the combination of dry winter air and the return of the heater have been the primary factors. Of course, in the summer, I was ascribing the same effect to warm overnight temperatures.

Yesterday, though, I realized that, while the headache was the most noticeable symptom, it was accompanied by what I will euphemistically refer to as "stomach upset".

Grauph. Not only do I have a wretched headache, but that milkshake from In-N-Out has triggered my lactose intolerance.

... wait a sec.


The form of stomach upset induced by lactose intolerance3 can, indeed, result in dehydration4, thus prompting the other symptoms.

Running through recent incidents in my mind, I realized that there did, indeed, seem to be a correspondence between Dinner at I/O with Strawberry Shake and a day of chronic headache and general malaise.5

The evidence seems to support the hypothesis that milkshakes give me hangovers.

No, I am not going to chug a milkshake before bed just to test that out.

Not even for SCIENCE!!

  2. Though I was in the bathing chamber without pants, I did not otherwise emulate Archimedes.
  3. Yes, that. You know exactly what I'm talking about.
  4. That's why it's important to make sure you get plenty of fluids when you have the flu.
    Or dysentery.