‘Doc, my head is pounding!’ You’re parched and the sun is too bright, the world is too loud, and all you want to do is crawl under the covers and hibernate until the feeling’s gone.
“You wake up after a fête night and life hits you like a ton of bricks.”
Hangovers can be a nuisance at best, and crippling at worst. But we’ve got news for you—you don’t have to suffer through it. The reason why hangovers feel so terrible is that your body is incredibly dehydrated.
Researchers are still unsure about the exact causes of hangovers. However, several studies conclude that modifiable biological factors, such as dehydration, gastrointestinal irritation, inflammation, chemical exposure, and disrupted sleep are likely contributors to the symptoms. Some research also suggests that genetics may play a role.
But while hangover cures are a complete myth, there are a few things you can do to counter the alcohol dehydration and stay hydrated enough to avoid one or at least limit its crushing effects.
How does hangover dehydrate you?
There are a couple of reasons.
One of the main causes of a hangover is dehydration, and drinking alcohol dehydrates you faster thanks to its diuretic effects.
For one thing, alcohol decreases the production of the antidiuretic hormone (ADH). ADH is the hormone that helps your kidneys manage your body’s water content; it tells your kidneys when to conserve water. When you drink alcohol and ADH production is slowed, your kidneys don’t know to conserve water, so they produce more urine instead.
Another reason, sometimes a night of partying results in you spending the night next to the toilet. Vomiting almost always results in dehydration, and if you’re already dehydrated from drinking alcohol, throwing up will only make it worse.
Hangover symptoms can include:
• Fatigue, weakness, dizziness
• Headaches, muscle aches
• Increased thirst, sweating
• Sensitivity to light and sound
• Irritability, anxiety
• Nausea, stomach pain
• Increased blood pressure
The symptoms that occur during a hangover may vary significantly from person to person. Furthermore, the same amount of alcohol will affect people differently, so it is impossible to predict how much alcohol will cause hangover symptoms.
Some types of alcohol may also increase a person’s risk of experiencing hangover symptoms. For instance, research indicates that congeners, which are present in dark-coloured spirits such as bourbon, may worsen a hangover.
If a person notices worse symptoms after drinking wine, particularly white wine, it is possible that they have an intolerance to sulphites.
So how do we prevent this?
BEFORE THE PARTY
1. Ensure you have a meal before leaving home.
Drinking on an empty stomach will speed up your blood alcohol levels so you get both drunk and dehydrated faster. Before your night out, make sure you have a good meal with carbs, such as sweet potato, complex carbs, nuts, legumes etc. This will help your body to slow down the amount of alcohol going into your system.
DURING THE PARTY
2. As a rule, it takes one hour for your body to process one alcoholic drink, so making your drink last longer, and therefore drinking less and more slowly will help keep you hydrated. Drinking too much alcohol too quickly means your body won’t be able to process it fast enough.
3. Switch it up
Drink a glass of water in-between glasses of alcohol. Opt for sparkling water instead of tonic, or go for a cocktail that uses coconut water. If you have access to fruits and veggies that have a high-water content, like watermelon, cucumbers, berries and celery, these are helpful. You could also use fruits and veggies as garnishes for your drink.
4. Choose a lower alcohol content
Choosing a lower – not necessarily a low – alcohol content drink can help you stay hydrated for longer. Drinks with a high alcohol content will dehydrate you more severely and more quickly. So the less alcohol that’s in your system, the easier it is to stay hydrated. Drink in moderation.
WHEN THE PARTY’S OVER
Can coffee help?
Currently, there is no cure for a hangover, and consuming coffee is unlikely to provide much, if any, relief. Similar to alcohol, caffeine, which is present in coffee, is a diuretic. Therefore, it may further dehydrate the body, potentially prolonging or worsening certain symptoms of a hangover.
5. Time is the only sure cure for a hangover. In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to help yourself feel better:
• ↓Sip water, coconut water or fruit juice to prevent dehydration. Resist any temptation to treat your hangover with more alcohol. It’ll only make you feel worse.
• ↓Have a snack. Bland foods, such as toast and crackers, may boost your blood sugar and settle your stomach. Soup can help replace lost salt and potassium.
• ↓Take a pain reliever. A standard dose of an over-the-counter pain reliever may ease your headache. Note aspirin can irritate your stomach.
• ↓IV hydration if the hangover is severe, as recommended by your healthcare professional. When you drink fluids, your body is only able to absorb about half of what you consume. IV hydration, on the other hand, boasts a 100% absorption rate. That means that you know your body is getting all of the nutrients it needs, and quickly.
After all is said and done, the simplest and most effective method to help hangovers is managing your alcohol consumption, be moderate and maintain your hydration via your water intake.
You will not only be able to prevent the hangover, but enjoy “Fête after Fête”.
For more information: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hangovers