Substance Use

Can You Get a Fever After Drinking Alcohol?

woman with fever and thermometer

Table of Contents

Get Help Now

check insurance
Check your insurance by using our Online Form
call us
Talk to someone now.
Call (855) 430-9439

Heavy drinking can result in various side effects, with a fever being one of them. The impact of alcohol on the body can trigger uncomfortable symptoms. When experiencing such side effects, it’s essential to recognize that they might signify an underlying issue.

Understanding how alcohol affects the body and being aware of the broader implications of these side effects is crucial for identifying potential health concerns.

If you’re encountering persistent discomfort or signs of a fever after heavy drinking, seeking medical attention is advisable to address any potential underlying problems.

Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us

How Alcohol Affects Body Temperature

Alcohol can influence body temperature through its physiological impact on blood vessels and heat regulation. (1) When alcohol is consumed, it causes blood vessels to dilate, resulting in a temporary feeling of warmth. While this might create a perception of increased body heat, it doesn’t necessarily cause a fever directly. (1)

However, in certain circumstances, alcohol can exacerbate existing conditions that may lead to a fever. For example, alcohol consumption may weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections or inflammatory diseases that can manifest with fever. (2)

Drinking alcohol can lead to the illusion of warmth, but a person’s body temperature doesn’t actually increase in most cases. In fact, alcohol consumption usually lowers body temperature. This means developing a fever just because you had some alcohol is very unlikely.

However, studies have shown that alcohol can reduce your body’s ability to control its temperature, which, combined with other factors, could lead to a fever. (3)

While drinking alcohol in itself might not lead to a fever, other associated events might. For instance, after a night of heavy drinking, you may experience a hangover the next day accompanied by fever-like symptoms.

This would mean that your body temperature is elevated, and you may feel fatigued. Still, your temperature reading wouldn’t actually be high enough to count as a fever (which is marked by a temperature over 99 degrees Fahrenheit).  (4)

Lastly, if you have been drinking alcohol for some time, especially in excess, you may go through a period of alcohol withdrawal if you drink less or stop drinking. During the withdrawal process, you may experience a number of symptoms, including:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors (5)

Why You Might Feel Feverish After Drinking

Experiencing a fever after drinking can stem from various factors related to alcohol’s impact on the body:

  1. Immune System Response: Alcohol can weaken the immune system, making the body more susceptible to infections, which may manifest with fever.
  2. Low Blood Sugar: Alcohol disrupts blood sugar levels, leading to fluctuations that can contribute to feelings of weakness and mimic fever-like symptoms. (6)
  3. Dehydration: The diuretic effect of alcohol can cause dehydration, intensifying hangover symptoms and creating sensations akin to fever.
  4. Inflammatory Response: Alcohol triggers inflammation, contributing to headaches, muscle aches, and an overall feeling of discomfort that may be perceived as feverish. (7)
  5. Reduced Temperature Regulation: Alcohol dilates blood vessels, affecting the body’s ability to regulate temperature and potentially causing a sensation of warmth or fever.
  6. Exacerbation of Existing Conditions: Alcohol can exacerbate pre-existing conditions like infections or inflammatory diseases, leading to elevated body temperature.

Recognizing the nuanced factors contributing to feeling feverish after drinking highlights the importance of moderation, staying hydrated, and being aware of individual health conditions. 

What Causes a Hangover?

A hangover is a result of intricate physiological changes induced by alcohol consumption. These changes manifest in a variety of symptoms:

  1. Dehydration: Alcohol’s diuretic effect leads to increased urine production, contributing to dehydration, a primary cause of hangover symptoms. (8)
  2. Inflammatory Response: Alcohol triggers an inflammatory response in the body, causing headaches, muscle aches, and general discomfort.
  3. Gastrointestinal Distress: Alcohol irritates the stomach lining, leading to nausea and, in some cases, vomiting.
  4. Blood Sugar Fluctuations: Alcohol disrupts blood sugar levels, contributing to fatigue, weakness, and mood swings.
  5. Sleep Disruption: While alcohol may induce drowsiness initially, it disrupts the sleep cycle, resulting in fragmented and poor-quality sleep.
  6. Vasodilation: Alcohol widens blood vessels, contributing to headaches and an increased sensitivity to light and sound.
  7. Toxic Byproducts: During alcohol metabolism, the liver produces toxic byproducts that can intensify hangover symptoms. (9)

How to Treat the Symptoms of a Hangover

If you drink enough to suffer from a hangover the next day, there are a number of uncomfortable side effects you may experience. The most common hangover symptoms include headaches, trouble concentrating, and low energy.

As your body works to flush the alcohol from your system, you may also experience dehydration and/or low blood sugar. These conditions come with side effects of their own, and they can be dangerous, which is why it’s important to keep an eye on your health. 

If you’re suffering from a hangover, especially one that has led to a fever, you can help your body feel normal again by: (10)

  • Drinking lots of water to rehydrate
  • Taking electrolytes, which will speed the absorption of water and help re-balance your system
  • Take Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen), which can help relieve headaches and reduce the fever (11)
  • Check your blood sugar levels and take glucose if your levels are low, and make sure to follow up with a doctor to figure out what caused the hypoglycemia
  • Avoid additional alcoholic beverages and try not to drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages, which can dehydrate you further
  • Take supplemental vitamins to support your immune system, as taking alcohol can trigger an immune response, contributing to your fever

A minor hangover is an expected side effect following a night of drinking, but if you’re experiencing severe hangovers, you may be drinking too much and putting extreme strain on your body. It’s also possible that you’re confusing the signs of alcohol withdrawal with hangover symptoms.

Hangover, Alcohol Poisoning, or Alcohol Withdrawal

The effects of a hangover can sometimes be confused with the effects of alcohol withdrawal, but they represent two very different processes in your body’s system.

A hangover typically lasts 8-24 hours and the symptoms peak when your blood alcohol levels return to zero. (12)

The symptoms may include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Vertigo
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms aren’t just uncomfortable; they can also be life-threatening. In addition to affecting your core body temperature, which may make you feel like you have a fever, alcohol withdrawal can cause tremors, sweating, anxiety, high blood pressure, and heart palpitations are all common. Seizures and hallucinations may also be experienced.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms happen when a person who has become physically dependent on alcohol stops or reduces their drinking.

They may feel like a severe hangover at first, but the symptoms will last far longer, often for days or weeks, depending on the person’s history of alcohol consumption. Getting medical attention is important to prevent the body from going into shock.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Knowing when to seek medical attention after drinking is important for addressing potential health risks.

Here are scenarios and symptoms that warrant prompt medical intervention:

  1. Persistent High Fever: If you experience a persistent high fever after drinking any amount of alcohol, especially if it exceeds 104°F (40°C), seek immediate medical attention. (13)
  2. Severe Dehydration: Symptoms like extreme thirst, dark urine, or an inability to keep fluids down indicate severe dehydration and require medical assistance.
  3. Confusion or Altered Mental State: Confusion, disorientation, or other changes in mental state can signal a serious issue and necessitate urgent medical evaluation.
  4. Persistent Vomiting: Continuous vomiting may lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, requiring medical attention to prevent complications.
  5. Seizures: If you experience seizures after drinking, it is a medical emergency, and you should seek immediate help.
  6. Difficulty Breathing: Any difficulty breathing or shortness of breath is a serious symptom that demands urgent medical attention.
  7. Chest Pain: Chest pain can be a sign of serious heart-related issues and requires immediate medical evaluation.
  8. Persistent or Worsening Symptoms: If hangover symptoms persist or worsen over an extended period, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional.
  9. Concerns About Underlying Health Conditions: If you have pre-existing health conditions, such as liver disease or diabetes, and experience unusual symptoms after drinking, seek medical advice promptly. (14)
  10. Inability to Wake Someone: If someone is unresponsive or cannot be awakened after drinking, it is a medical emergency, and immediate intervention is essential.

In general, if you have any doubts or concerns about your well-being after drinking, seeking medical advice is the safest course of action.

Preventive Measures and Safe Alcohol Consumption

Practicing responsible drinking can help prevent hangovers and potential health issues:

  1. Hydration: Drink water between alcoholic beverages to counteract dehydration.
  2. Moderation: Set limits on the number of drinks to avoid excessive alcohol intake.
  3. Eat Before Drinking: Consuming a meal before drinking can slow alcohol absorption.
  4. Know Your Limits: Understand personal tolerance levels and abstain when necessary.
  5. Avoid Binge Drinking: Spacing out drinks over time reduces the risk of alcohol-related issues.

Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder

Recognizing alcohol use disorder is crucial for early intervention:

  1. Signs of AUD: Watch for signs like increased tolerance, failed attempts to quit, and neglect of responsibilities.
  2. Progression: AUD can progress from mild to severe, impacting physical and mental health.
  3. Mental Health Impact: AUD is often linked to mental health issues, emphasizing the need for comprehensive care.
  4. Early Recognition: Early identification of AUD enables timely intervention and improves treatment outcomes.
  5. Seeking Help: Encourage seeking professional help, as AUD is a treatable condition with the right support.

Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol use disorder, sometimes called alcohol addiction, is a serious condition that can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. You may have only developed a drinking habit over the past few weeks or months, but it doesn’t take long for alcohol consumption to get out of hand.

Once you begin drinking habitually, it’s only a matter of time before your body becomes physically dependent on it.

Physical dependence on alcoholic drinks means that quitting “cold turkey” simply isn’t a safe or viable option. If you try to stop drinking on your own, you may experience several symptoms that are both uncomfortable and potentially dangerous, including seizures and hallucinations.

This is why it’s highly recommended that you undergo alcohol addiction treatment and detox with a team of medical professionals.

Ultimately, with the right healthcare professionals by your side, you can overcome alcohol addiction and achieve long-term sobriety, but it’s important to partner with the right team.

If you or your loved one is facing addiction, our caring staff at Zinnia Health can help. Our supportive inpatient and outpatient treatment programs are flexible, personalized, and research-based. When you’re ready to take the next step, reach out to our 24/7 helpline at (855) 430-9439


Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us