A party is fun with liquor to add fuel to the fire.

Party time is when you let down your hair and go all out. One drink follows another and you never keep count of the chasers. However, you pay a price for all the drinking you did the previous night. The morning after can be terrible with a splitting headache waking you up, a feeling of lethargy and nausea. You have a hangover, the effect of drinking too much. Do you reach for an aspirin, try out some tested remedies like tomato juice, buttermilk, plenty of water, lemon juice, another drink or simply fall back into your bed and snooze some more? Is hangover cure fact or faction? Can you get relief from symptoms of hangover?  

When you have a headache, nausea, feel lethargic and extremely thirsty the day after a night of heavy drinking, this is typically a hangover. The most common symptoms are body ache, dizziness, headache, extreme thirst, lethargy, sensitivity to light and sounds, depression, bloodshot eyes, depression, bad breath, vomiting, stomachache, irritability, problem concentrating on a task and, in some cases, accelerated heartbeats.

Your body metabolism, foods you consumed along with alcohol, the amount of sleep you had after drinking and the quality of alcohol also play a role in the following morning’s hangover and its severity. Drinking too much too fast is a sure way to get a hangover the next day. 50 ml of hard liquor contains the same amount of ethanol as a 150ml of wine or 350 ml of beer. 

Causes of Hangover

Ethanol and its byproduct acetaldehyde, urination leading to dehydration, irritation of stomach lining, dilation of blood vessels and drop in blood glucose, immune system response and complex chemicals in the drinks are all responsible in one way or the other for causing a hangover. 

Hangover Chemistry

Besides ethanol there are other complex chemicals known as congeners such as methanol in the drinks, byproducts of fermentation and additives. Once you drink, the body starts to metabolize ethanol. Ethanol metabolizes into acetaldehyde, a poisonous substance. Acetaldehyde further metabolizes into acetic acid. However, an excess of alcohol presents an extreme load on the body and it takes time to metabolize ethanol into acetic acid. Imbalance in the enzymes responsible for conversion also inhibits other enzymes vital for the citric acid cycle and places a burden on the liver and affects brain functioning. Alcohol also affects the ability of kidneys liver to remove acetaldehyde from the bloodstream while catalyzing enzymes that generate more toxins in the bloodstream. Ethanol promotes excess urination leading to dehydration. All these have the combined effect of causing hangovers with typical symptoms. 

Remedies Commonly Used and Their Efficacy for Hangover

Some symptoms of hangovers can be simply unbearable and you reach for pills or drinks or foods that promise relief. Some work, some are plain myths, urban legends with no grain of truth.

Fact

The simplest and the best remedy that works in most cases is what you have plenty of: water. Dehydration is responsible for some symptoms and excess of toxins and imbalance in chemical functions are responsible for others. Drink lots and lots of lukewarm water. It rehydrates the body, helps in flushing out toxins and in restoring chemical balance. Better still, add some honey, ginger juice and lemon juice to alleviate symptoms, flush out toxins and restore internal balance.

  • There is nothing like a couple of eggs to help you get over a hangover. Cysteine speeds up acetaldehyde conversion and reduces symptoms.
  • Bananas, kiwi fruits and fruits rich in potassium help restore lost electrolytes and restore chemical balance, giving relief in hangover.
  • Fruit juice, especially citrus fruit juices speeds up the process. Vitamins and fructose help overcome symptoms of a hangover.
  • Aspirin does help but you must know it has a damaging effect on the liver besides causing acidity.
  • Tomato juice, onion juice, buttermilk and mint juice are beneficial when combined with plenty of water at regular intervals.
  • Sit in a tub of hot water and this will help the skin flush out toxins, besides relaxing you. A hot oil massage and sauna speeds up recovery.
  • Gentle exercise combined with the above remedies helps you regain normalcy in a short time.
  • Fast deep breathing or hyperventilation gets oxygen into your system and speeds up the process of detoxification.
  • Sleeping it off is best since it allows the body to metabolize alcohol. The body metabolizes 0.015 blood alcohol concentration each hour.

No single method works; you must combine lots of water with nutritious food, the right fruit juices and give time to let your body flush out toxins.

Fiction

  • A popular urban myth is to have some more drinks to negate the effect of a hangover.
  • Drinking lots of coffee will not cure hangovers but will, instead, make you feel restless and increases anxiety levels.
  • Fruit juice with high sugars will not cure hangovers as commonly believed but will raise glucose levels and throw your metabolism out of gear and will slow down the process of eliminating ethanol from your system.
  • A heavy workout is no cure. It only makes you feel a bit better due to endorphins but you need to stay hydrated.

The fictitious remedies may not give relief in hangovers; on the contrary, they could cause further discomfort.

Before We Go for Party

If you do plan to party and alcohol will feature on the list of items you will consume, it is better to take precautions to prevent hangovers rather than frantically search for remedies the next day. Eat plenty of fat before you drink and during. Fats delay absorption of alcohol and help the body process it better. Drink plenty of water along with your drinks and intersperse each drink with a glass of plain water. Water keeps you hydrated and helps eliminate alcohol. The best practice is to drink in moderation or avoid alcoholic drinks altogether but that takes the fun out of life. If you do get a hangover the next morning, you can always tackle it with a few remedies. 

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