Hangover 911: which hangover cures work when you’re hurting?

Forget the rest, we've got the best hangover cures to get you through the night into 2016.

If you've overdone it on New Year's Eve or any other occasion, find out which hangover cures work. Photo: Kevin Briody, Flickr-Creative Commons
If you've overdone it on New Year's Eve or any other occasion, find out which hangover cures work. Photo: Kevin Briody, Flickr-Creative Commons

SAN DIEGO, December 30, 2015 – Let’s face it, it’s easy to overdo it on the booze New Year’s Eve even if you don’t consume alcohol regularly. Who among us hasn’t intended to have a simple champagne toast as a traditional part of the festivities, but end up tossing back a lot more than a festive glass.

Your body can process one alcoholic drink per hour. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or a shot (1.5 ounces) of hard alcohol, Any more and you start building up alcohol in your bloodstream while your liver and the rest of your system works overtime to clear that poison out.

Guess what that means? You are officially inebriated. Tipsy. Toasted. Smashed. Wasted. Slizzered. Blotto. Drunk.

Please, don’t be stupid or reckless enough to drink and drive. There’s a little something called Uber, people. Even with surge pricing, you’ll save a lot of time, money and anguish in the long run. Expect to have it hit you a few hours later: a hangover.

There are many purported hangover cures based in fact and fiction. None will “cure” you. But there are tactics that will help you minimize and survive the worst hangover effects and speed you along the road to recovery.

Rehydration is the first and most important response to a hangover. Photo: Antoine K/Flickr-Creative Commons
Rehydration is the first and most important response to a hangover. Photo: Antoine K/Flickr-Creative Commons

Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Alcohol dehydrates you. It is a diuretic and it prevents your kidneys from reabsorbing water. Meanwhile, you’re urinating and flushing electrolytes out of your body. Replenishing fluids and staying sufficiently hydrated will help minimize a headache and help your bloodstream process the alcohol out of your system faster. You cannot drink enough water, the first best choice. You will rehydrate faster if you drink room temperature water instead of cold water.

How about Pedialyte? Pedialyte is an electrolyte replacement drink originally intended for infants and children. It has balanced amounts of sugar and sodium to help replace what is lost due to illness. Because young adults started spreading the word among themselves that it was a great hangover cure, the company decided to go with it, and started manufacturing and marketing an adult version. Believe it or not, it isn’t a bad choice and will help. Sales of adult Pedialyte are up 60 percent this year.

Drink a sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade. These drinks are fairly easy on your stomach, provide electrolytes, potassium and a small amount of carbs, and keep up the hydration. Drink one of these sports drinks before falling asleep (or passing out) and immediately chug more when you wake up. Vegetable juice blends, reduced-sodium clear chicken broth, and caffeine-free diet sodas will also work.

Sleep it off. Chances are you already stayed up late while you were overdoing the bubbly. Going without sleep can make a hangover a LOT worse. Alcohol decreases your amount of REM sleep, so you won’t feel like you got any sleep the next day. Sleep in, then hydrate, get something to eat and consider taking a nap. A nap for a hour or two the day after may help you feel better more quickly. Get to bed early the following night.

After the party's over, you will pay the price if you've consumed too much alcohol. Photo: Anthony Quintano, Flickr-Creative Commons
After the party’s over, you will pay the price if you’ve consumed too much alcohol. Photo: Anthony Quintano, Flickr-Creative Commons

Oh, my head! Yes, you may have a headache. Avoid the temptation to pop your painkiller of choice. Any side effects are magnified when alcohol is in your system. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is the worst choice. It stresses your poor liver in addition to whatever you’re already done and can damage it. Ibuprofen (Motrin) can cause stomach bleeding. Stick to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and naproxen (Aleve). Try a cold compress with an ice pack or cool washcloth first. If you do take a painkiller, be sure to drink a generous amount of water with it.

Eat eggs. Eggs contain cysteine, which helps break down key components of alcohol in your body. Eating eggs after drinking too much can help reduce the hangover-causing alcohol metobolite toxin in your system.

Ginger. Ginger is the go-to choice if you are nauseated. Ginger has long been known as a natural way to relieve nausea. Chinese physicians regularly prescribe ginger for gastric problems. You can drink it in tea or chew dried ginger. Add honey and lemon to your tea; honey provides nutrients, and lemon provides citric acid and vitamin C.

Should I run that New Year’s Day 10K? It may sound like the last thing you feel like doing, but any kind of physical activity will help accelerate your body’s ability to flush the alcohol out of your system. Be cautious, take it easy and make sure you are drinking plenty of water or a sport drink since you’re likely to be a little dehydrated, and you’re going to start perspiring to boot. If standing up is a challenge, take a rest instead.

Eating a high fat meal before consuming alcohol like this bacon mac and cheese can slow down the absorption of alcohol.
Eating a high fat meal before consuming alcohol like this bacon mac and cheese can slow down the absorption of alcohol.

Can you do anything to prevent a hangover?

 A new study this summer from Australia showed that eating Korean or Asian pears, which are also called nashi pears, are shown to reduce blood acetaldehyde, which is the toxin responsible for how bad you feel. But it only works if you consume them ahead of time. You can eat the actual fruit, or drink 12 ounces of Korean pear juice.

Another trick with some science to back it up involves another type of pear, prickly pear cactus extract. A study from Tulane University in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that taking prickly pear cactus extract lowers a kind of protein linked to inflammation in the liver. The people in the study reduced their severe hangover symptoms by 50 percent.

Other tactics: eat a high-fat meal before you consume alcohol. It will decrease the rate that your bloodstream absorbs alcohol. People in Mediterranean countries swear by having a tablespoon of pure olive oil before drinking alcohol. Hydrate while you are drinking alcohol. Try to have a full 16 ounce glass of water between every drink. Drink at least a pint of water before you fall asleep. If you wake up during the night, force yourself to drink another full pint of water.

Don’t do the drinking if you can’t do the recovery. Photo: Gisela Giardino, Flickr-Creative Commons.

What hangover remedies don’t work:

The hair of the dog is a complete myth. Your body will start processing the new alcohol in your system and stop doing anything about getting rid of the old stuff making you feel so terrible.

Hangover IVs. In Las Vegas, New York and Los Angeles, you can get hooked up to an IV after a night of partying for about $200. You will get an IV full of vitamins, electrolytes, and pain meds, plus glutathione, a detoxifying agent that supports the liver. The premise is you’ll absorb everything faster without it having to be digested, and you’ll feel better sooner. Sorry, none of these claims have been verified by the FDA. You can consume all of this as effectively without the IV. There can be complications from an IV including infections and swelling at the insertion site. Play it safe, chug your hydration drink of choice with a vitamin chaser.

Coffee. Caffeine will accelerate dehydration so avoid coffee or anything with caffeine for a while.

Hangover “pills.” Nope, no such thing. At best you’re paying an inflated price for some vitamins. Save your money.

The one guaranteed cure? The obvious one: Don’t get so stinkin’ drunk in the first place.

When do you need medical attention for a hangover?

There are two symptoms you should take seriously. If someone is vomiting repeatedly, they can lose a lot of fluids and electrolytes, and this can be life threatening. If someone can’t drink fluids, you should consider getting them medical attention.

The second symptom is someone passing out. This is no joke. A person can choke on their own vomit or go into shock. If you cannot wake someone up after they’ve passed out due to alcohol, you need to get them to an emergency room right away.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California, and a serious shopper. Read more Media Migraine in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities at WashingtonTimes.com” when quoting from or linking to this story. 

Copyright © 2015 by Falcon Valley Group


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