When it comes to hangovers in particular, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Many like to drink, but nobody likes a hangover. To fight a hangover, you must first recognize what alcohol does to the body aside from making you feel nauseous and tired. So what is a hangover?
The liver converts the alcohol into acetaldehyde, a substance that is naturally toxic in high amounts. Levels of acetaldehyde are rarely high enough to be dangerous or fatal, so the presence of acetaldehyde is not entirely responsible for a hangover. Drinking also disrupts sleep, keeping people awake at worst and enabling restless sleep at best. In particular, drinking upsets the hormones that regulate our internal clocks, so much so that many hangovers compare it to jet lag and vice versa. In some cases, alcohol can provoke migraines, in which case a hangover is not the only element that plays a role, and a person suffers from a migraine independently of a hangover.
The symptoms of this process are diarrhea, fatigue, nausea, headache, tremors and cold sweats. Some people even get dizzy if they drink too much. These symptoms typically begin when blood alcohol levels drop. Often people experience the worst symptoms when blood alcohol levels drop to zero. Drinking until drunk is the only guarantee of a hangover in the morning. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how far you go past the initial state of intoxication. In fact, light or moderate drinkers are more likely to get hangovers than heavy drinkers. Susceptibility to hangovers may also be a question of family history of alcoholism or drinking to relieve symptoms. Drinking to relieve symptoms can also lead to problems in addition to the hangover, especially with regard to addiction.
Nobody likes hangovers, so here are ways to relieve your symptoms, whether you’re worried about the future or just struggling with a hangover.
Try a hangover drink
A drink hangover is a concoction that you can drink before going to the bar. You can also take it between drinks or after drinking. With their concoctions of electrolytes and other strengthening substances, hangover drinks can give you peace of mind no matter how many margaritas you have. Research shows the effectiveness of these products, so consider getting one today. Being completely caffeine, gluten and nut free, they shouldn’t cause any crabby reactions in your system.
The dog’s hair
Drinking to relieve the symptoms of a hangover is known as taking the dog’s hair, in reference to alcohol, from the dog that bit you. Because symptoms are at their worst when blood alcohol levels reach zero, hangovers are a form of withdrawal where continued dosing could technically alleviate symptoms.
Both alcohol and depressants interact with brain cells in such a way that the effects of alcohol on the brain can be similar to the effects of depressants on the brain. Sedatives also cause withdrawal symptoms immediately after stopping. Perhaps the brain reacts similarly to large amounts of alcohol as it begins to leave the body.
That doesn’t mean you should rely on the “hair of the dog.” It can relieve symptoms, but it can lead to or worsen addiction. Unless you’re enduring the worst hangover of your life, there’s no reason to have another drink.
Eat carbohydrates in particular
Many people have their own eccentric “hangover cures” like Eggs Benedict or a bacon-egg-cheese sandwich, but eating carbs matters most, regardless of your hearty breakfast option, which does nothing restorative except taste good. Drinking lowers blood sugar levels, which causes hangovers to wake up in the middle of the night and stay up until the alarm goes off. When you’re hungover, your brain works without its simple fuel: glucose. Multi-flavored toast and juice are the best ways to get your blood sugar levels back on ice cold, so most tried-and-true hangover remedies should work.
Alcohol dehydrates you by making you urinate: it inhibits the release of vasopressin, a hormone that decreases the amount of urine the kidneys produce. Common symptoms of a hangover, like diarrhea, vomiting, and sweating, can further dehydrate you so that, as difficult as it may be to keep down, at some point you’ll need to down a few liters of water to feel better.
Avoid brown liquor
As strong as they are, vodka and gin are less likely to cause hangovers than darker drinks like whiskey or scotch. First and foremost, clearer forms of alcohol contain ethanol and darker forms contain methanol, along with other accompanying chemical compounds. The liver metabolizes ethanol and methanol in the same way, but the byproducts of methanol metabolism are more toxic, so methanol is more likely to cause a hangover.