10 Tips to Cure a Hangover
The Sweetest Hangover?
When Diana Ross sang about the sweetest hangover she didn’t want to get over, it was nothing to do with alcohol. Anyone who has experienced the throbbing pain in their head, the queasy feeling in their stomach, the sensitivity to light and sound and the dizziness that makes everything spin will tell you that ‘getting over it’ is their number one priority.
A hangover can manifest itself in a variety of forms. It is commonly recognized as a collection of signs and symptoms that result from overindulging in alcohol. You can experience a hangover at any time of day, but most people suffer in the morning following a night of heavy and sustained drinking. Here are some of the symptoms that heavy drinking – and the hangover that follows it – might bring up:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Bad breath
- Difficulty focusing
- Stomach pain
- Aching muscles
- Insatiable thirst
- Shame, regret, embarrassment and/or depression
What's a hangover?
According to Wikipedia, a hangover can be described as "unpleasant physiological and psychological effects" followed by the consumption of too much alcohol, accompanied by "a feeling of severe discomfort" that can last for 24 hours or more.
Can You Really Cure a Hangover?
Hangover cures are a myth, possibly propagated by companies selling hangover cures. So while you can’t actually cure a hangover, there are lots of things you can do to deal with the symptoms, before or after they appear.
Hangovers are caused by dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it promotes the removal of fluid from the body. Lack of fluid is dehydration, and the more alcohol you put into your system in a given period of time, the more dehydrated you’re likely to become.
That’s why you might wake up ‘the morning after’ feeling like you slept with your tongue buried deep in a sand dune – or played some crazy drinking game where you were forced to lick the back of a carpet. The only real secret to avoid getting a hangover in the first place is not to drink alcohol. If that isn’t possible, though, here are some tips that will help keep a hangover at bay or make coping with one a bit more palatable.
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5 Tips for Preventing a Hangover
1. Eat something first. Before you head out for a night of drinking, eat something. Fatty foods or a glass of full fat milk will help to absorb the alcohol and coat the stomach, slowing down the effects of alcohol. Heading out for an evening of debauchery on an empty stomach is just asking for trouble.
2. Watch what you drink. Before you throw back those beverages, check out their color. Dark-colored drinks like bourbon or brandy have more chemical compounds called congeners than their light-colored cousins such as gin or vodka. The more congeners, the worse your hangover is going to be.
3. Drink between drinks. Try drinking water or orange juice after each alcoholic beverage, i.e. between alcoholic drinks. Water in particular will keep your body hydrated and make it less likely that you’ll wake up with a hangover.
4. Get out of the bar. Take a break from the stuffy atmosphere. During your drinking session, go outside to let the fresh air fill your body with extra oxygen. Consider walking home at the end of the night to let Mother Nature help sober you up.
5. Hydrate at bedtime. Drink a couple of glasses of water before you go to sleep. Keeping your body hydrated is the simplest and most effective way to ensure you don’t wake up feeling like a zombie, and drinking water just before you drift off to sleep is one of the simplest, oldest and most effective remedies there is.
So far so good: but what happens if you don’t do any of these things and wake up with a hangover? How are you supposed to cope when it feels like your body’s been taken over by an evil twin who’s hell-bent on destroying you from the inside out? That’s when the next 5 tips will come in particularly handy.
The more alcohol you put into your system in a given period of time, the more dehydrated you’re likely to become.
How to Deal with Hangovers
Know Your Alcohol Limits
According to the UK's National Health Service (NHS), men should drink no more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day, and women no more than 2-3 units a day. A unit of alcohol is roughly equivalent to a single measure of whisky, a third of a pint of beer, or half a 175ml glass of red wine. To avoid the risk of long-term health issues after heavy drinking sessions, stay away from alcoholic beverages for at least 48 hours.
5 Tips for Dealing with a Hangover
6. Go back to sleep. Sleep is your body’s natural mechanism for healing itself. Also, when you’re asleep your body doesn’t have to work so hard to cope with the symptoms you’ve inflicted on yourself. But if you can’t get to sleep because your head is pounding…
7. Take some painkillers. Don’t overdo it. Take what you normally take in the usual dosage, keeping in mind that certain tablets like aspirin can irritate the stomach and add to your problems.
8. Eat something. Stay away from fried foods if you can, although whatever you eat will help rid your body of toxins. Eggs and meat are particularly recommended for their detoxifying properties.
9. Drink something healthy. Like alcohol, the caffeine in coffee causes dehydration. Drink some fruit juice to replenish lost vitamins and remove toxins. Tea also contains caffeine, in some cases more than coffee, so stay away from that too.
10. Make water your new best friend. Spend the day drinking a glass or two of water once every hour. It will rehydrate you and quickly restore your body’s systems back to normal. Who knew plain old water could be so powerful?
Calculating Units of Alcohol
Units of alcohol
Hangover Myths Debunked
There's an excellent slideshow on the WebMD.com site that shatters all those hangover-related myths to pieces. Here's a summary of some of them:
Hangovers Aren't a Big Deal
Wrong! Heavy drinking affects the central nervous system and can weaken the immune system.
Hangovers Only Affect Men
Nope. Men have more water in their bodies, so women who drink the same amount will suffer.
Only Heavy Drinkers Get Hangovers
Uh-uh. Just a few drinks can bring on a headache.
Drinking Wine Prevents Hangovers
Wrong again. The darker the drink, the harder it is on your head.
You can read all 12 of the myths on the WebMD page at http://www.webmd.com/balance/ss/slideshow-hangover-myths.
Treat Alcohol with Respect
Everybody’s different, so the severity of your hangover will depend on a number of factors. Some people can drink more than others and it all revolves around your physical and mental state before the drinking session begins. If you’re tired, hungry or thirsty when you go out, chances are you’re going to suffer more than you otherwise would. If you’ve taken the time to eat something, to drink some water, and to drink water or juice between alcoholic drinks, you’ll probably cope a lot better.
As with most things in life, the simplest cures usually work the best. Eat well, get plenty of sleep, and drink lots of water. This is basic down-to-earth advice that’s guaranteed to help make hangovers less of a problem while giving you the resources to deal with any symptoms that might come along. And that’s got to be better than waking up feeling miserable, vulnerable and totally out of control.
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