Ireland holds first-ever alcohol hangover research seminar

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

Ireland holds first-ever alcohol hangover research seminar

All Scene & Heard
By Louise Walsh
November 19, 2021

An international team of experts will meet in Donegal at Ireland’s first-ever alcohol hangover research seminar this weekend.

The conference in Letterkenny today will discuss the latest research on the behavioural, psychological and physiological consequences of a hangover.

And the advice for those who intend to indulge over the Christmas period is that the lighter the colour of the drink, the slightly less the hangover!

The event is being hosted by Irish postdoctoral researcher at Letterkenny IT, Dr Lydia Devenney and will include specialists such as the world-renowned Dutch founder of the Alcohol Hangover Research Group Dr Joris Verster, German lecturer Dr Ann-Kathrin Stock and Dr Gillian Bruce from the University of West Scotland.

Dr Devenney said the implications of an alcohol-induced hangover were far -reaching and its research was a passion of hers

‘Hangover research is a long-time passion of mine and the effect of a hangover in cognitive behaviour,” she said.

“I met this team of researchers in Perth in 2015 and was asked to speak at a number of subsequent conferences. We have been collaborating on research ever since and it was my dream to host a seminar in my country, in my own hometown.

“I feel that it’s important research but I know people think of it as a novelty because they always chuckle when it is mentioned

“However hangovers can cause so many dangers for people in the workplace, particularly for those in safety critical and cognitively demanding occupations.

“Currently, airline and seafarer companies, oil and gas rig operators and medical surgery regulators consider the excretion of alcohol as a marker of the end of the effects of alcohol but this isn’t the case.

“The traditional eight-to-12-hour bottle to the throttle has become somewhat dated in light of our recent findings on the effects of a hangover

“We use breathalysers to test the level of alcohol in the body but there are yet no markers to measure hangovers.

“It’s only when alcohol leaves the body that the hangover starts and all the dangers associated with it.

“I want to see change in regard to regulations around operating machinery or performing operations when hungover.

“There are very few research publications on hangovers – only 567 compared with over 16,000 on hay fever for example, so we still have a lot to learn.

“The most commonly reported symptoms of a hangover is fatigue, but it also affects our mood and can cause anxiety or ‘hangxiety’. This can affect the way we work both at our job and with people at our job.

“It can affect relationships with people and decision making.

“The cost of absenteeism due to alcohol has been well documented but I think the cost of presenteeism could be just as high, in terms of bad decision making due to hangovers

“There are no statistics in Ireland but figures from the UK in 2018 estimated 520,000 people went to work with a hangover every day, resulting in a loss of 17 million days because people are impaired when they do go in.

“I would like to see organisations like the Aviation Authorities and the Royal College of Surgeons have discussions around safe practices for those coming to work with hangovers.

“I would like to see organisations like the Royal College of Surgeons, Federal Aviation Authority, Armed Forces and International Transport Workers’ Federation consider revising their codes of practice and implement rules which consider the time needed for a hangover to wear off, once alcohol has left the system in order to both acknowledge and reduce the dangers of working the day after alcohol consumption.

“If a taxi driver or a pilot makes a bad decision because of a hangover, it’s more than a financial loss, it could be a loss of life.”

And for those hoping to imbibe over the Christmas season, Dr Devenney advises that the lighter colour, the better.

“There are more congeners in darker drinks which have been shown to contribute to more severe hangovers!”