People who drink to the point of being intoxicated usually have some hangover issues. The best cure for this is to prevent it but if that does not happen, there may be ways to mitigate symptoms. There are other steps in hangover prevention. Once symptoms begin, fewer options actually provide relief. Traditional ‘cures’ do little to relieve symptoms. Some of them might make it worse.
Common Myths About Curing a Hangover (These Don’t Work)
Several myths and urban legends surrounding cures for hangovers have been around for years. Most are not based in science. Some include:
- The hair of a dog that bites: this practice of having a drink the next morning to ward off hangover effects does not work in the long run. Since the worse hangover symptoms occur when a person’s blood alcohol content is zero, taking a drink the next morning delays things. A morning-after drink can lead to dependence.
- Black coffee: coffee may relieve the feeling of fatigue associated with hangovers and help alleviate headache symptoms. This constricts blood vessels but relief is only temporary and symptoms will return. Coffee acts like a diuretic further dehydrating the body, increasing hangover symptoms. Coffee may lessen symptoms but in the long run can increase issues.
- Tylenol before bed: this treatment seems to make sense but fails because the effects of acetaminophen (Tylenol) will usually wear off before onset of hangover symptoms. It is better to take it after symptoms begin. When the liver processes alcohol it cannot process acetaminophen like normal. This can cause liver inflammation and perhaps permanent liver damage.
- Fried foods: if you eat foods with fat before drinking, oils can coat your stomach lining and slow down absorption of alcohol. This can help prevent severity of a hangover. Eating greasy food morning after drinking may add to gastrointestinal malaise by irritating the stomach and intestines.
Things You Can Do to Help a Hangover
The only real cure for having a hangover is time. If it cannot be prevent, then do not consume any more alcohol and let symptoms subside. Some things can be done to relieve the stress and severe symptoms:
- Water or sports drinks: dehydration sets in with alcohol. The quickest way to relieve symptoms is to drink lots of water. Sports drinks replace electrolytes.
- Painkillers: aspirin and ibuprofen may reduce hangover-induced headache and muscle pain but should not be used if experiencing abdominal pain or nausea. The medications are gastric irritants and compound symptoms. It should not be taken during a hangover.
- Eggs: eggs have cysteine, which breaks down acetaldehyde in the body so eating eggs can help remove hangover-causing alcohol and get rid of toxic buildup
- Bananas: potassium stores are depleted with hangovers so eating bananas helps replenish potassium
- Bouillon soup: try some bouillon soup to help replace salt and potassium lost during a drinking binge
- Fruit or fruit juice: consuming fruit or juice while hungover can increase energy, replace vitamins and nutrients, and has been shown to speed up the body’s process of getting rid of toxins. Fruits and fruit juices can decrease intensity of hangover symptoms
Drinking as much water as possible over the course of the evening and before bed will relieve hangover symptoms caused by dehydration. Only time cures hangover symptoms caused by excessive drinking. If a problem exists where you are drinking too much and hung over a lot, it may be time to seek help for a drinking problem.
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