Feeling Hungover, But Didn’t Drink? Here’s What It Could Mean.

There’s a pretty distinct feeling we get the morning after a night out (or a night in with a bottle of wine). According to Drinkaware, a hangover is caused by ethanol – the alcohol in your drinks – which is a toxic chemical that works in the body as a diuretic that causes dehydration that leads to headaches, exhaustion, and queasiness. But what does it mean if you have that same hangover feeling when no alcohol was involved? Here are a few possible causes.


A hangover is caused by dehydration, so it makes perfect sense that dehydration from a cause other than alcohol would also make you feel like you partied a little too hard. Think back on your activities before the onset of symptoms: Were you in the heat or physically active? Sweating without proper hydration often leads to these ailments. If you suspect you’re feeling yucky because there’s not enough water in your system, drink up! The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine says men need about 15.5 cups of fluids daily while women need around 11.5 cups.

Caffeine Woes

We love our coffee, soda, and tea – but they might be hurting us. It is common for excessive caffeine to make people feel anxious and even physically ill. This can sometimes be mitigated by drinking water. Likewise, too little caffeine can make you feel less than your best. There’s such a thing as caffeine withdrawal, and it also comes with some nasty symptoms like headaches, fatigue, brain fog, and depressed moods that can stick around for days at a time.


When we say infection, we aren’t necessarily talking about wounds. An infection can be a cold, a bladder infection, or anything in between. And if your immune system is working hard to fight the infection, you might feel the effects of that. Aches, pains, nausea, headaches, and fatigue might indicate an infection. If you can’t nail down what’s making you feel hungover, it’s a good idea to visit a medical professional to investigate.

Electrolyte Imbalance

We drink Gatorade and other sports drinks after a night out because they can help restore the electrolytes our body needs – making us feel a bit better. The same imbalances we get after alcohol intake can also occur from other reasons, like sweating or throwing up. When this happens, you might feel hungover. If you have reason to believe an electrolyte imbalance is behind your pounding headache, try nursing it as you would a hangover. If the symptoms persist, see a doctor to ensure your levels are in the normal range.

Sleeping & Supplement Habits

Getting a good night’s rest is vital. If you’re having trouble sleeping, you’ll likely encounter some of the same grogginess and pain that you would with a hangover.

With that said, the supplements or medications you take to get some rest could cause the same symptoms…so try a different brand of melatonin or sleep aid if you think they could be the root of the problem. Sometimes certain vitamins you take during the day can make you groggy and un-focused as well.

Feeling hungover is no fun. If you are experiencing the symptoms you’d typically associate with a night of drinking, but you didn’t partake, it could be one of these reasons. As always, be sure to speak to your doctor about any medical concerns.

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