October 15, 2005

How To Beat The Hangover Blues

Learn how to avoid a hangover, and what to do to feel better if you're already hung over.

Hangover BluesThere are very few things that are worse than a hangover. It's hard to tell which is more debilitating, the headache or the nausea. You keep asking yourself "How could I feel so good last night, and be so miserable this morning?" The best way to avoid a hangover is, obviously, to avoid drinking or drink responsibly, but some days that doesn't seem to be an option. Believe us, we know how you feel after last night's Screech rum debacle.

To help you (and us) through the battle with hangover demons, we found information at howstuffworks.com about what you can do before, during and after drinking to minimize the hangover impact. There were nine or ten pages of scientific gobbledygook about things like "vasopressin" and "congeners," but we were too hung over to read them so we just skipped to the overview.

Before Drinking

  • Eat a full meal - A full stomach slows down the absorption of alcohol, giving the body more time to process the toxins. Fatty foods and carbohydrates increase this effect. Having food in the stomach also decreases stomach irritation, in turn reducing the likelihood that a drinker will vomit.

  • Drink a glass of water - This ensures the body is hydrated before the diuretic effect takes hold.
  • Take multivitamins - This better prepares the body for the depletion of vitamins caused by frequent urination.

While Drinking

  • Drink in moderation - Ideally, drinkers should limit themselves to one drink per hour because the body takes about an hour to process a single drink.

  • Drink a glass of water after every alcoholic beverage - In addition to helping keep a drinker hydrated, this will give the body more time to process the alcohol, dilute the toxins and reduce irritation of the stomach. A sports drink like Gatorade or Propel will also replenish electrolytes, salts and sugars lost in the urine.

  • Watch your drink choice - Drinkers generally fare better when they stick with one drink. Each new type of alcohol a drinker puts into his or her system makes the body work that much harder and puts that many more toxins in the body, leading to a more severe hangover. Here's a rundown of the major types of alcohol and their effects:

    • Beer: Beer has the lowest percentage of alcohol (4 to 6 percent), but it is also carbonated, which speeds up the absorption and can lead to toxin build-up.
    • Wine: Wine has a higher percentage of alcohol (7 to 15 percent) than beer, but it is usually not carbonated. White wine is safer than red or blush because it has fewer congeners. In general, the cheaper the wine, the higher the congener content and the worse the hangover.
    • Liquor: Liquor has the highest alcohol content (40 to 95 percent) and therefore increases the likelihood of a hangover. Clear liquors like vodka, rum and gin are better bets than dark or sweet liquors like bourbon, scotch or tequila because they have fewer congeners. Generally, cheaper liquor will result in a worse hangover than more expensive liquor.

After Drinking

Before Bed

  • Take two aspirin with a full glass of water - The prostaglandin inhibitors in the aspirin can decrease hangover severity.

In the Morning

  • Take two more aspirin with a full glass of water - This has been shown to minimize headaches as well as decrease inflammation from leftover prostaglandin.

  • Take another multivitamin - Replenishing C and B vitamins in particular can help get rid of the rest of the toxins.

  • Eat breakfast - A meal that includes eggs (for the cysteine), a banana (for the potassium), and fruit juice (for the fructose) or a sports drink (for the electrolytes, sugars and salts) can get the body on the road to recovery. Keep in mind that caffeinated coffee, tea and soda will further dehydrate a drinker.

Learn more and browse all the hangover information at howstuffworks.com.

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Posted by Jake Jamieson at October 15, 2005 10:11 AM

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Recent Comments

actually if you drink one night and then wake up hungover and thirsty it is not a good idea to drink a lot of water. better drink a coke or something. water is good but too much when you are hungover makes the liver watery and makes the liver jello-like making it weak. when you have a hangover drink a beer very slowly and that will take your headache away...a cold beer though. BUT YOU KNOW WHAT IS THE BEST THING TO DO? DO NOT FUCKEN DRINK UNTIL YOU DON'T KNOW WHO YOU ARE OR UNTIL YOU FEEL MORE THAN TIPSY...IT IS LIKELY THAT YOU WILL HAVE A HANGOVER NEXT DAY SPECIALLY WITH CHEAP WINE OR LIQOR OR BEER....THE CHEAPEST IT IS THE WORST THE HANGOVER...AND IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE HUNG OVER...THEN DON'T FUCKEN DRINK. PERIOD. IT'S THAT SIMPLE.


Posted by: actually at April 23, 2010 12:42 PM

Take your B vitamins, some ginger, milk thistle and green tea! Don't count on charcoal! You might as well eat the ash from the cigarettes.


Posted by: Hangover Cure at July 23, 2007 5:33 PM

Taking tylenol after a night of drinking (especially before going to bed) is a bad idea. Sure, as freebird said you would have to take a lot to experience an immediate effect from it, but the processing of its chemical compound in the liver is strenuous and has a high possibility of taking an alternative Cytochrome P450 pathway (when the system gets bogged down) that creates seriously toxic metabolites. Couple that with a liver already working hard to neutralize the metabolites of ethanol breakdown, and that equates to a lot of toxins being produced (not mention alcohol consumption induces the expression of the enzymes necessary for this alternative pathway). Sure, you may not feel this immediately. Not even in a month. But the possibility of doing serious damage to your liver, or other tissues is very high. I would go into more detail here, but it is a long topic.

Aspirin on the other hand is also not recommended when alcohol is involved. The reasons for this are much different. Aspirin has a tendency to causes GI bleeding. This is often not serious, and we probably don't even notice when we take it. Unfortunately alcohol increases the tendency for this to happen. Blood loss and alcohol's tendency to associate with B12/Folate deficiency mean that one who goes this route with any regularity will probably experience some level of anemia (most likely unbeknownst to the person). This can also lead to the development of ulcers.

Basically it is a bad idea to take aspirin/tylenol etc. when alcohol is involved. Solution: Stay hydrated (i.e. before/during/after), make sure and eat, do not drink until you are sloppy drunk, try and stay up for a while after you stop drinking (the body processes etOH much faster while you are awake). Should you find yourself hungover the next day hydrate, take in stuff with good electrolytes (BTW gatorade and the like are actually very poor sources of electrolytes, the sodium and potassium in them are primarily to aid in uptake of the water content of the fluid) such as V8, and eat some breakfast.


Posted by: DF at April 20, 2007 2:16 PM

Acetaminophen is the fancy name for tynenol and you would have to OD on it for over a week for it to really hurt your liver. I take a dehydration packet and try to eat food then when I get up again I feel almost completely better.


Posted by: Freebird at March 22, 2007 5:49 PM

Doesn't aspirin have acetaminophen in it? In that case, taking it with alcohol is going to destroy your liver. I can't imagine it would be a good idea taking it at the end of the night after a bunch of drinks :o


Posted by: DB at April 28, 2006 3:56 PM

I have tried the methods you have listed to stop hangovers. I have allows had a problem with hangovers. A buddy of mine told me to try chaser and I take it everytime I drink. I wake up feeling fine. Just thought I would tell you what works for me. Thanks


Posted by: B at October 20, 2005 10:34 AM
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» Liquor Snob October Roundup from Liquor Snob
Well, we made it through another month without being hauled away to detox, so we guess we can mark October in the win column. We found some very cool products this month, reviewed more than our share of great liquor...[Read More]

» Hangover Cures: The Ultimate Experiment from Liquor Snob
A couple weeks ago, we did some scientific research on how to beat a hangover. While it had lots of excellent advice and included scientific terms like "vasopressin" and "congeners," we realize that we didn't give you the information you...[Read More]

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