How long does alcohol stay in your system?
- How long does alcohol stay in your system?
- So how long does alcohol stay in your body?
- How long does alcohol stay on your breath?
- How long does alcohol stay in your urine?
- How long does alcohol stay in your hair?
- How long does alcohol stay in your blood?
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When alcohol is in your system, for any length of time, it can cause real havoc on your body. Longer periods of time with alcohol in your system can cause reactions like alcohol flushing or more severe hangovers felt the next day. Either way, it's pretty unpleasant.
How long does alcohol stay in your system?
Alcohol tests vary in sensitivity but can detect alcohol in different parts of your system. Some tests, like testing for alcohol on your salvia, can only detect alcohol up to 48 hours. Comparatively, hair tests for alcohol can find traces of alcohol up to 90 days later.
It's also helpful to keep in mind that everyone metabolizes alcohol at their own rate so some people will take longer to clear it than others.
The table below shows how long current tests on the market can detect alcohol from different parts of the body.
Type of test
How long can it detect alcohol?
Up to 5 days
Want to learn more about alcohol in the body? Keep reading! We'll also explain how to reduce some of the effect of alcohol on your skin by taking Asian flush pills.
So how long does alcohol stay in your body?
Overall, it typically takes the body one hour to break down one unit of alcohol. However, this can change depending on various factors, such as:
- Your weight
- How quickly you’re drinking
- How much food you’ve eaten
- Whether you’re taking any medications (and what kind)
- The type of alcohol you’re drinking (and the alcohol content)
So if the body usually takes about one hour to break down one unit of alcohol, how much is that exactly?
How much is 1 unit of alcohol?
This roughly translates to:
- 2.1 units in a standard glass (175 ml) of average-strength wine (12%)
- 2 units in a pint of lager, beer or cider (3.6%)
- 3 units in a pint of higher-strength lager, beer or cider (5.2%)
- 1 unit in a single measure of spirits (25 ml)
So if you have a pint of a higher-strength beer at 5.2%, it will usually take your body 2 hours to break it down. That’s assuming you don’t drink any more alcohol within those 3 hours, too.
That’s why binge drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning. You’re putting more alcohol in your body than it can process, until it becomes overwhelmed with alcohol.
What is binge drinking?
Binge drinking itself comes with a whole host of short term and long term side effects. Short term, people who binge drink can expect to experience nausea, severe hangovers, memory loss and vomiting. If they’re not careful, they could also experience alcohol poisoning which can be life-threatening.
In the long term, binge drinking can influence hypertension, long-term memory damage, depression, mental health issues, heart problems, brain damage, liver damage and cancer. Binge drinking can also impact various other factors in your personal life, such as increased risk of car accidents and damage to relationships.
A fairly good indicator of binge drinking is blacking out. You might have a partial blackout or a total one. This happens when you drink too much and your brain struggles to keep short-term information in your memory.
I experience some of these symptoms with small amounts of alcohol - how is that possible?
Many people have alcohol intolerance (commonly referred to as Asian Flush or Asian Glow). This genetic condition means that the body is unable to break down alcohol normally. So while you may only have one beer, or even a few sips of alcohol, you can still experience really negative symptoms similar to binge drinking.
Asian Glow and binge drinking are still two different situations, even if some of the symptoms might be similar. Binge drinking is when someone drinks way too much alcohol in a short amount of time. Asian Glow happens when the individual has an ALDH2 deficiency in their liver. Both situations cause negative symptoms from alcohol in the body, but it’s important to remember that they’re different.
Binge drinking can simply be avoided. Make sure to drink alcohol slowly, stay hydrated with non-alcoholic drinks and stay within your limit. Unfortunately, there’s no way to cure Asian Glow other than to stop drinking alcohol completely.
However, if you’re interested in reducing your Asian Glow symptoms, check out: How can I reduce Asian Glow?
How long does alcohol stay on your breath?
Alcohol remains detected in the breath the shortest amount of time. On average, breath-tests can detect alcohol for about 24 hours. This is typically done with a breathalyzer to measure your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).
Some people believe that having a coffee or energy drinks will speed up the time it takes to get the alcohol out of your breath and body. This is a myth! Alcohol consumption cannot be changed with coffee or energy drinks.
Alcohol can be detected on your saliva, usually up to 48 hours after drinking.
How long does alcohol stay in your urine?
Urine tests can alert to alcohol quite a long time after you’ve had your last alcoholic drink. The average urine test can detect alcohol between 12 and 48 hours after drinking. More advanced tests can detect alcohol in urine up to 5 days after your last drink.
How long does alcohol stay in your hair?
Alcohol can stay in your hair for up to 90 days. These types of hair tests are one of the most sensitive and powerful tests available for alcohol detection.
How long does alcohol stay in your blood?
How long the alcohol stays in your blood will depend on how much you drink. The body can metabolize alcohol at a rate of 20 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) per hour. So if your alcohol level is 60 mg/dL, it would take about three hours to eliminate the alcohol from your blood.
However, this process can be interrupted by a genetic condition called Asian Flush or alcohol flush reaction. Those with this condition struggle to metabolize alcohol properly, so it takes the body much longer to break down the alcohol.
Want to learn more? Check out: Your Top Questions About Asian Flush ANSWERED
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