Hangover Clues: The Day After
A hangover is caused partly by body's being poisoned by alcohol and partly by the body's reaction to withdrawal from alcohol.
Alcohol robs your brain cells of water and glucose (the brain's food), which is why you experience hangover symptoms such as headache, dehydration, and the shakes the day after a night of heavy drinking.
Although eating will not help you to sober up while you're drunk, eating while you drink or before you go to sleep after drinking can lessen the intensity of the next day's hangover. That's because when you eat, your stomach holds the food for digestion, closing its contents off from the small intestine. Alcohol is absorbed into the body most quickly from the small intestine, so if the alcohol cannot reach the small intestine, it cannot be absorbed that way. (Though it will still be absorbed through the stomach, it will take longer, thereby allowing the liver to break down the alcohol that's already in the bloodstream.) Giving the alcohol time to be metabolized is what will lessen your hungover feeling.
Remember never to take acetaminophen (the medicine found in Tylenol¨) before you go to bed. It's metabolized by the liver just like alcohol is, and combining them can cause serious liver damage. Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatories are not as threatening to the liver, but using them to excess could cause gastric problems. Among the most threatening combinations are alcohol and codeine (which is found in many cough medicines), barbiturates, and tranquilizers. All are depressants; mixed together, they can slow down breathing and cause confusion and sedation. To be safe, wait until alcohol has cleared your system before taking any medication for your hangover headache.
Though there are lots of so-called "hangover cures," the only real cure is time. The best thing to do the day after heavy drinking is down lots of water and try to rest if possible.
One last thing: while you're feeling like crap, make a mental note of how awful it is. Then the next time you have an opportunity to drink heavily, you might think twice.
Mastering Moderation: How to Drink Responsibly
If you are a drinker and want to avoid hangover, learn to drink responsibly. That means not drinking to escape (people or problems) and not drinking to get drunk. But that's only want it doesn't mean. What is does mean is learning to see alcohol for what it is (a drug) and remembering to approach it with the healthy dose of caution it deserves.
- Eat before drinking
- Drink slowly
- Space your drinks
- Set a drinking limit
- Easy Does It
So what's the answer? Don't drink? That's sensible enough advice, but it's probably not for everyone. Still, there are precautions that will help check the odds of a hangover. On involves slowing down the absorption of alcohol in the body by eating before you drink (and even while you are drinking) and by sipping your drinks slowly. The safest bet of all is to practice moderation when drinking. Moderation is healthy and painless. Drink enjoyably, but as part of the social event, not the goal. Think about it. Because of all the medications, preparations and potions touted as remedies for hangovers through the ages, the only sure-fire way to spell relief the morning after the night before is (and always has been): M-O-D-E-R-A-T-I-O-N. Cheers.