How to Get Rid of a Hangover

Hangover Cures and Prevention

Bad dreams and early mornings don't work well
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You had too much to drink last night and you wake up with a splitting headache, upset stomach, and the light coming in the window is blinding but you are too tired to get up and close the shade. You have a hangover. Why do these happen and what can you do to get rid of it fast?

Why Hangovers Happen

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it pushes fluids out of the body. Loss of fluid is accompanied by loss of essential salts like potassium and magnesium.

Blood-sugar levels are disrupted. Toxins from the breakdown of alcohol and other ingredients in the drinks can remain in the body for several hours after drinking has finished. Alcohol can also directly irritate your stomach and intestines, leading to nausea. These combine to give the common symptoms of a hangover.

Minimizing the Hangover Before It Happens

You won't get a hangover if you don't drink alcohol, and your risk goes up with the more alcohol you have in one drinking session. Limiting your alcohol is the best way to prevent a hangover

Another way that you may be able to minimize a hangover is by drinking water and eating food while drinking alcohol, which may at least keep it from affecting your stomach as much. It's recommended that you drink at least a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage.

The type of alcohol you drink does make a difference. The darker sweeter drinks have more congeners (complex organic molecules of which methanol is one).

Therefore brandy, sherry, red wine, and whiskey will give you more of a hangover than white wine or vodka. Cheap spirits that are poorly refined are more likely to give you a hangover.

If you anticipate that you'll be drinking and may drink a bit too much, you may want to try taking prickly pear extract several hours before you start drinking.

Although experts don't know how prickly pear extract works, they think that it may have to do with its inflammatory effects. In other words, prickly pear extract may decrease inflammation that occurs during a hangover. The only studies were performed on rats, who couldn't report on whether or not they felt hungover.

Hangover Recommendations

Time is the only proven cure for a hangover. But if you are feeling miserable, here are some recommendations.

  • Drink lots of water.
  • Don't drink any alcohol.
  • A sports drink containing sugar and electrolytes can help replenish what you have lost and restore your blood sugar level. If you can stomach it, bananas help to replenish many essential salts, as can bouillion or vegetable broth.
  • Take some pain relief tablets, but absolutely avoid Tylenol and other pain relievers that contain acetaminophen as they can produce liver damage when combined with the alcohol remaining in your system. Aspirin might also upset your stomach further if you are sensitive to it.
  • Sleep. A few hours of it can work miracles.
  • Don't drive until you have fully recovered. Just because you've slept after a drinking session doesn't mean you're sober. Nothing can speed alcohol out of the body so don't kid yourself that a strong coffee will do it (it's more likely just to help replenish a little fluid).

    Hair of the Dog?

    Drinking more alcohol is a bad way of dealing with hangovers because of the strain it puts on your liver and stomach. It also simply puts off the hangover, which will be back later and it will be even worse. Alcohol may help to a small extent, blocking the breakdown of methanol to formaldehyde and formic acid, but it is only a delaying tactic.

    Instead, you should refrain from drinking any alcohol for 48 hours after you have a hangover. This will allow your body to get recovery time.

    The Non-Alcohol Hangover Drink

    • 1 part olive oil,
    • 1 raw egg yolk
    • salt and pepper
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons of tomato ketchup
    • Dash of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce
    • Some lemon juice (or vinegar).

    This hangover recovery drink is not based on clinical research, but here is the theory behind it. The egg yolk contains N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), an amino acid that helps to drive out the toxins acquired from booze and tobacco smoke. Tomato ketchup provides bioflavonoids which are an excellent source of antioxidants.

    A Word From Verywell

    You will need time to heal from a hangover. Rehydrate, nourish your body, and get rest. Let it be a lesson learned and the next time you will be drinking alcohol, take it easy.

    Sources:

    Alcohol Hangover: Mechanisms and Mediators. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh22-1/54-60.pdf

    Hangover Cures. National Health Service. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/Hangovers.aspx.

    Hangover Treatment. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002041.htm.

    Wang F, Li Y, Zhang Y-J, Zhou Y, Li S, Li H-B. Natural Products for the Prevention and Treatment of Hangover and Alcohol Use Disorder. Molecules. 2016;21(1):64. doi:10.3390/molecules21010064. 

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