Facts you should know about a hangover
There is no cure for a hangover. However, sip water or a sports drink to replace lost fluids and electrolytes, especially if you are throwing up or have diarrhea. Apart from this, there are a few other ways to reduce or relieve the symptoms quickly.
- After severe alcohol intake and withdrawal, the body gets dehydrated due to loss of fluids from the body (alcohol intake induces excessive urination, diarrhea, sweating, and vomiting). Hence, drinking sufficient fluids will help recover from a hangover.
- Drinking alcohol may cause a decline in bla ood sugar levels, which may make you feel dizzy and weak. Drinking fruit juices and eating toast or other sources of carbohydrates eases the symptoms.
- Eating foods rich in potassium, such as bananas, oranges, apricots, grapefruit, honeydew and cantaloupe melon, leafy greens, spinach, broccoli, potatoes, mushroom, and peas, will help to lessen the hangover symptoms and replenish the loss of electrolytes. This will make you feel better quicker.
- Whiskey, red wine, and tequila are dark-colored beverages that can cause a severe hangover, hence avoid consuming dark-colored alcohol beverages.
- Aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help with the headache and the overall achy feelings, but it is not recommended to take Tylenol (acetaminophen) because the alcohol present in your body can heighten the toxic effects of acetaminophen on the liver.
- Hangovers are usually caused by alcohol withdrawal from the body, so drinking one or two glasses of alcohol immediately can ease the symptoms of a hangover. This practice, however, does not allow you to recover and is not recommended.
- Consuming caffeine can stimulate the brain and make us function normally, but excessive caffeine intake is also not recommended.
- Excessive alcohol intake can impair sleep quality and duration, which may contribute to irritation and weakness on the next day. Getting plenty of sleep after heavy drinking can help the body recover.
What are hangover symptoms and signs?
A hangover is the combination of unpleasant symptoms after drinking alcohol. The symptoms of a hangover usually start on the next day and are at their worst when the alcohol level in the body is zero. The symptoms of a hangover usually differ with people. Symptoms generally last from 24 to 72 hours. During this period, it is common to have severe mental and physical stress due to alcohol withdrawal in the body. The following are a few common unpleasant symptoms:
- Sensitivity or irritation to light and sound
- Rapid heartbeat
What are the best foods and vitamins for relieving hangovers?
There isn't a ton of research on hangovers, but experts know that dehydration and inflammation work in tandem to create a hangover feeling. A big part of it is dehydration as well as a build-up of some of the alcohol metabolites. The best foods and vitamins to counter the effects of a hangover are as follows:
- Eggs: Your liver works excessively to neutralize the toxin acetaldehyde using an amino acid called L-cysteine. Give your liver a hand by having eggs for breakfast, which are a source of L-cysteine.
- Coconut water: Dehydration and loss of electrolytes can cause headaches, shakiness, fatigue, dizziness, and muscle spasms. Coconut water supplies potassium, so it both rehydrates you and helps reestablish your electrolyte balance.
- Make your own sports drink: Mix together water, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a pinch of sea salt (honey optional).
- Bananas: These are high in potassium (an electrolyte). Also, having bananas is a good idea if you are suffering from an upset stomach.
- Ginger: Slice fresh ginger root and add it to your water. Ginger can be effective for nausea and vomiting.
- Vitamin B: One study showed that supplementing with B6 before, during, and after drinking could help reduce hangover symptoms.
Your body had to metabolize all that booze. Alcohol is broken down in the liver by alcohol dehydrogenase to acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is further broken down by acetaldehyde dehydrogenase and glutathione. When drinking large quantities of alcohol, the liver can't keep up. So, the toxic acetaldehyde builds in the blood while the liver tries to make additional glutathione. Elevated levels of acetaldehyde, over time, may lead to oxidative stress, liver damage, and possibly cancer. Genetic variations within the detoxification process can determine how quickly and efficiently you can metabolize alcohol, which can further cause issues for those who are slow metabolizers. A hangover feels crappy for a day, but injuries and things that happen while really intoxicated can be serious and potentially permanent. The best way to prevent hangovers is to avoid alcohol or drink within acceptable social limits.
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United States. National Institutes of Health. "Hangovers." <https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/hangovers>.