Hangover Shakes: Why They Happen and When to Worry

Discover the science behind shaking after alcohol consumption. Unveil the causes, symptoms, and ways to manage it.

Published On

July 4, 2024

Understanding Shaking After Drinking

Experiencing shaking and sweating after consuming alcohol can be concerning and may leave you wondering about the underlying causes. Several factors can contribute to these symptoms, ranging from the effects of alcohol on the body to various health conditions. Understanding these causes and symptoms can provide insights into why shaking and sweating occur after drinking.

Causes of Shaking and Sweating

  1. Alcohol's Effects: Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that can affect the body in various ways. It can disrupt the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to tremors or shaking. Alcohol can also impair the body's ability to regulate temperature, resulting in excessive sweating.
  2. Hypoglycemia: Dizziness and sweating can also be caused by hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar. This condition can occur suddenly and is common in individuals with diabetes. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include dizziness, sweating, and weakness.
  3. Heart Conditions: Dizziness and breaking out into a cold sweat can be symptoms of a heart attack. When blood flow to the heart is reduced, the body may respond by producing these symptoms. Other symptoms of a heart attack may include chest pain or discomfort.
  4. Menopause: Hot flashes, characterized by sudden bursts of heat felt on the upper body, can cause sweating. These flashes are associated with a decline in estrogen levels during menopause. Hot flashes can last from less than a minute to an hour.
  5. Anxiety: Dizziness and sweating can be triggered by anxiety, especially during a panic attack. High levels of anxiety can lead to the release of stress hormones that affect the body's cardiovascular and respiratory systems, resulting in symptoms like dizziness and sweating.
  6. Fainting (Syncope): Dizziness and sweating may occur during fainting episodes, also known as syncope. Fainting happens when there is a sudden drop in blood pressure, leading to a temporary decrease in blood flow to the brain. While fainting is generally not caused by a severe medical condition, it is important to determine the underlying cause.

Health Conditions and Symptoms

It is crucial to note that shaking and sweating after drinking alcohol can sometimes indicate underlying health conditions. If these symptoms persist or are accompanied by other concerning signs, it is advisable to seek medical attention for proper evaluation and diagnosis.

By understanding the causes and symptoms associated with shaking and sweating after drinking, you can be better informed about your body's response to alcohol consumption. Remember to monitor your alcohol intake and seek medical advice if you have any concerns about your health.

Connection to Alcohol Consumption

When it comes to the experience of shaking after drinking alcohol, there are two key connections to consider: alcohol shakes and tremors, and alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

Alcohol Shakes and Tremors

Alcohol shakes, also known as alcohol tremors, can be a sign of alcohol withdrawal. These shakes typically occur as quickly as 8 hours after the last drink, as the brain is flooded with more activity when alcohol leaves the body of a heavy drinker [2]. Heavy drinking can lead to the brain becoming accustomed to a reduced level of stimulation. As alcohol leaves the body, the nervous system may become hyperactive, resulting in alcohol tremors or shakes [2].

It's important to note that experiencing alcohol shakes does not necessarily mean someone is an alcoholic. Even misusing alcohol in other ways, such as binge drinking, can lead to what is commonly referred to as "hangover shakes." In these cases, the hands or the whole body may shake depending on the amount consumed [2].

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome refers to a range of symptoms that can occur when an individual with alcohol dependency suddenly stops or significantly reduces their alcohol intake. Shaking or tremors are one of the common symptoms experienced during alcohol withdrawal. However, it's important to note that not everyone who experiences alcohol withdrawal will have shakes or tremors, and the severity can vary [2].

In extreme cases, alcohol withdrawal can lead to a condition known as delirium tremens. Delirium tremens can result in seizures and, in rare cases, can be fatal. It is often caused by reducing or stopping alcohol intake after a period of heavy drinking. Immediate medical care is necessary for individuals experiencing delirium tremens [2].

If you or someone you know experiences alcohol shakes or other withdrawal symptoms, it may indicate a physical dependency on alcohol. Seeking medical intervention and assistance is crucial for a safe withdrawal process. Medical professionals can provide guidance, support, and appropriate treatment options to manage alcohol withdrawal and reduce potential risks [2].

Identifying Alcohol Dependency

Recognizing alcohol dependency is crucial for understanding the causes behind shaking after drinking. Identifying the signs and symptoms of alcohol dependency can help individuals seek proper medical assistance to address their condition effectively.

Signs and Symptoms

Alcohol dependency can manifest through various signs and symptoms. These may include:

  • Increased tolerance: Needing to consume larger amounts of alcohol to achieve the desired effect.
  • Cravings: Strong urges or desires to drink alcohol.
  • Loss of control: Inability to limit or stop drinking once started.
  • Neglecting responsibilities: Prioritizing alcohol consumption over work, family, or other important obligations.
  • Withdrawal symptoms: Experiencing physical and psychological symptoms when attempting to cut down or stop drinking. These symptoms may include shaking, anxiety, sweating, nausea, and insomnia.
  • Continued use despite negative consequences: Persisting with alcohol consumption despite experiencing adverse effects on physical health, relationships, or other areas of life.

It's important to note that the presence of these signs and symptoms does not necessarily mean someone has an alcohol dependency. However, if multiple indicators are present, it may be an indication of a more significant issue.

Seeking Medical Assistance

Recognizing the signs of alcohol dependency is an essential first step. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of alcohol dependency, it is advisable to seek medical assistance. Consulting with a healthcare professional or addiction specialist can provide guidance, support, and appropriate treatment options.

Medical intervention may be necessary for individuals experiencing alcohol dependency, especially if they are also experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as shaking. Alcohol shakes can indicate a physical dependency on alcohol, and experiencing them alongside other withdrawal symptoms may suggest the need for medical intervention to withdraw from alcohol safely [2].

In severe cases, alcohol withdrawal can lead to a condition called delirium tremens, which is an extreme form of alcohol withdrawal. Delirium tremens can cause seizures and, in rare cases, be fatal. It typically occurs when alcohol intake is abruptly reduced or stopped after a period of heavy drinking. Immediate medical care is necessary for individuals experiencing delirium tremens.

Remember, seeking medical assistance is crucial for a comprehensive evaluation and tailored treatment plan. Healthcare professionals can provide the necessary support and resources to address alcohol dependency effectively and promote recovery.

Managing Hangover Shakes

Experiencing shakes or tremors after consuming alcohol can be unsettling. These hangover shakes, also known as alcohol tremors, typically manifest in various parts of the body such as the hands, fingers, arms, eyes, head, and voice. The duration of these shakes can vary from person to person but generally won't last longer than a day or two, especially if alcohol is consumed frequently.

Causes and Duration

Hangover shakes are believed to be a result of changes in the nervous system that are similar to those seen in alcohol withdrawal syndrome. When alcohol leaves the body, the central nervous system and part of the sympathetic nervous system remain unbalanced, leading to symptoms like shaking and tremors [4]. Low blood sugar levels due to the impact of alcohol on the body's ability to monitor blood sugar can also contribute to hangover shakes. When blood sugar drops, it can lead to shaking along with other hangover symptoms like sweating and headaches.

The duration of hangover shakes varies depending on individual factors and the amount of alcohol consumed. Generally, these shakes tend to subside within a day or two as the body processes and eliminates alcohol.

Self-Care Tips

While hangovers can be unpleasant, there are several self-care tips you can follow to manage hangover shakes and alleviate other hangover symptoms:

  1. Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids, such as water or electrolyte-rich beverages, can help replenish the body and reduce the severity of hangover symptoms.
  2. Eat Nutritious Foods: Consuming a balanced meal can help stabilize blood sugar levels and provide essential nutrients to support your body's recovery.
  3. Rest and Relaxation: Giving your body adequate rest and sleep can aid in the recovery process and minimize the intensity of hangover shakes.
  4. Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine: Refrain from consuming more alcohol or caffeine, as both can exacerbate hangover symptoms and potentially prolong the duration of the shakes.
  5. Over-the-Counter Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help alleviate headache and body aches associated with hangovers. However, it is essential to follow the recommended dosage and consult a healthcare professional if you have any underlying health conditions or take other medications.

Remember, the best way to prevent hangover shakes is to drink alcohol in moderation or avoid it altogether. If you find that you frequently experience severe hangover symptoms, or if the shakes are accompanied by more severe symptoms such as mental confusion, hallucinations, or seizures, it is advisable to seek help from a healthcare professional. They can provide guidance, support, and potentially recommend treatments or interventions to help manage your alcohol consumption.

Risks of Heavy Drinking

Heavy drinking can have detrimental effects on both physical and mental health. It is important to understand the risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption. This section will explore the effects of binge drinking and the potential complications of alcohol withdrawal.

Binge Drinking Effects

Binge drinking, defined as consuming a large amount of alcohol in one session, can lead to various adverse effects. One of these effects is known as "hangover shakes," where individuals may experience shaking in their hands or throughout their entire body. The severity of the shakes may vary depending on the amount of alcohol consumed.

Effects of Binge Drinking

Hangover shakes

Shaking hands

Tremors throughout the body

Alcohol Withdrawal Complications

For individuals who heavily consume alcohol over an extended period, the cessation of alcohol intake can lead to alcohol withdrawal syndrome. This syndrome can manifest with various symptoms, including shaking and tremors. In severe cases, a condition called delirium tremens may develop, characterized by seizures and potential fatality [2].

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal typically begin a few hours after the last drink and peak within 24-48 hours. However, for individuals who engage in heavy and prolonged alcohol consumption, symptoms may not appear until several days after quitting drinking.

Alcohol Withdrawal Complications

Shaking and tremors

Delirium tremens (severe withdrawal)


Potential fatality

It is crucial to recognize that experiencing shakes after drinking may indicate a need to withdraw from alcohol more safely, with medical intervention to aid in recovery. Seeking professional assistance can help manage the withdrawal process and minimize the associated risks [2].

Understanding the risks of heavy drinking, including the effects of binge drinking and potential complications of alcohol withdrawal, can serve as a reminder of the importance of consuming alcohol responsibly and seeking help if needed.


[1]: https://www.verywellhealth.com/dizziness-and-sweating-5217722

[2]: https://www.priorygroup.com/blog/alcohol-shakes-a-sign-of-addiction

[3]: https://www.theedgetreatment.com/what-does-it-mean-if-youre-shaking-after-drinking-the-facts/

[4]: https://www.healthline.com/health/alcohol/hangover-shakes

Addiction Recovery Support Groups

July 24, 2024

Discover the power of addiction recovery support groups. Break free and find strength in community. Start your journey today!

Addiction Relapse Prevention Tips

July 24, 2024

Essential addiction relapse prevention tips: Build support, manage stress, and recognize warning signs for long-term success.