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Posts tagged ‘hangover’

Tips for helping your New Year’s hangover

About two years ago, I did a post about why hangovers happen and what can be done to “cure” them. Basic idea from that post: there is no real cure for a hangover.

Hangovers are the result of a night of heavy drinking. The medical term for a hangover is acute ethanol withdrawal. When you wake up in the morning, all the alcohol has already been flushed out of your system by now, assuming the last time you had a drink was over 4 hours ago. People say that binge eating cheeseburgers and fries or taking a hot shower are all cures for a hangover. While there is no one-step solution to getting rid of a hangover, there are lots of methods to help you feel better.

Drink lots of water. Lots and lots: Most of the symptoms from hangovers can be attributed to one problem: dehydration. The alcohol not only zaps all the water from your system but prevents your brain from releasing chemicals reminding you that you’re thirsty for water! The headache you get from a hangover is caused by your brain literally shrinking because it is dehydrated. It would be wise to drink as much water as you can. Try to aim for 32 oz an hour for 4 hours, then if you’re starting to feel better you can bump it down to 16 oz an hour.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol:  Caffeine makes you dehydrated, which you already are beyond your belief. And if you do drink coffee with a hangover, the caffeine will rush to your head and make your headache feel worse because now all your neurons are firing off and are more sensitive. And although a beer might make you feel better for maybe an hour, your headache will come back with a vengeance and you’ll be curled up on your bed swearing you’ll never drink again.

Eat asparagus and bananas, but don’t binge eat: The amino acids in asparagus help protect the liver from the toxicity of ethanol. Asparagus also makes you pee more which will help rid your body of toxins more quickly. Bananas are also good for replacing the salt and potassium that you’ve lost. Crackers, toast, really any bread product can help bring your blood sugar up and give you some carbs.

Do yoga and drink Gatorade: It’s true that working your body will help eliminate the toxins faster, but doing a full on workout will dehydrate your body, which you know by now is the last thing you want. Yoga is a great way to stimulate the body and get yourself moving without having to lose more water. Drinking Gatorade or any other sports drink will also help since the fructose in the drinks metabolize the alcohol more quickly.

Take a Advil, then nap: Chances are you didn’t get your 8 hours sleep last night, with all that tossing and turning and waking up to either pee or wolf down water. Take one Advil, not two or three, ONE Advil and then try to sleep. The combination of painkiller + sleep will help calm your brain and could help relieve that headache. The reason I say to take one Advil is because your liver is already exhausted after converting all that alcohol. Excess acetaminophen is actually dangerous, and could lead to some unpleasant stomach pains.

There are also other things you can do while you’re out drinking to minimize the effects of your hangover the next day. Alternate drinks with one glass of water. Don’t smoke cigarettes, they’ll just send more chemicals into your body that your organs will have to process and they’ll hate you for it. Mix drinks will a little more soda than rum. Shaving off ounces of liquor from your drinks can spare you some pain. And although this is weird, if you’re really concerned about a hangover only drink clear or light-colored liquor. Darker liquors are more potent and thus can pack more a punch when it comes to hangovers.

Getting Over a Hangover

Long weekend of partying? You’re not alone. On a normal day, about half a million Americans go to work hungover. That number rises after big sports events such as the Super Bowl and long weekends such as Memorial and Labor Day weekends. And for as many people that are hungover, there are about as many myths about curing a hangover.

A hangover can also be categorized as acute ethanol withdrawal. So if you were to start drinking during a hangover you would actually feel better. But that only delays the symptoms and can court addiction.

When drinking, the alcohol in your body eventually reaches your kidneys. It inhibits the effect of a hormone called anti-diuretic hormone, or ADH, and it prevents your body from feeling thirsty! The ethanol causes increased urine production and drains the body of fluids. That loss of water in the your body actually shrinks some of your brain cells, which can lead to a multitude of symptoms.

Hangovers can be so unbearable because the alcohol and ethanol have their own separate effects on each organ system:

-Alcohol’s effects on the lining of the stomach causes nausea.

-The liver converts ethanol to acetaldehyde, which is 10 to 30 times more toxic than alcohol itself.

-The conversion of ethanol in the liver uses gratuitous amounts of glucose and can cause hypoglycemia, leading to fatigue, weakness, mood disturbances and lethargy.

-Dysphoria, depression, and anxiety include the most common psychological symptoms.

Hangovers are medically not well understood because doctors are more concerned with preventing alcohol abuse. They, therefore, want hangovers to be a disincentive for people to drink! As of today, there is no known “cure” or prevention for a hangover. There’s only ways to manage the symptoms.

Rehydrating is the absolute most important thing to do after a heavy night of drinking. A full 8 ounce glass of water every two hours is a good way to replenish the body. Coconut water is also great because it has natural electrolytes.

It’s also important to eat food with a lot of protein and carbohydrates to help your body’s metabolism. It has actually been medically proven that a bacon sandwich reduces the effects of a hangover! Bread, red meat, and likewise foods are known to be effective.

Contrary to popular belief, exercising and taking a hot shower do nothing to help hangovers. They can even make them worse. Exercising causes you to sweat which causes water loss, the exact opposite of what your body needs. Hot showers and saunas also do the same thing. Remember, a hangover is not caused by the presence of alcohol in your body, but the after-effects of the alcohol. By the time you feel the effects of a hangover, your body has already metabolized most of the alcohol in your system.

But there is one full-proof, 100% way to avoid a hangover: not drinking at all.