How to … cure a hangover

Nausea, headache, dizziness, sensitivity to light and the desire to never leave your bed? It’s probably a hangover. Most of us have experienced these symptoms after one too many glasses the night before, and they’re all the more common come the festive season. Here are seven steps you can take to reduce your risk of a hangover and lessen the side-effects should you have one.

Drink less
While many factors including body weight, food intake, gender and tolerance may determine how likely you are to have a hangover, the clearest indicator is the amount of alcohol you drink. Research has shown that the more you drink, the more likely you are to experience a hangover – not rocket science, we know. Try to curb how quickly you’re drinking, or skip a round every now and then.

Avoid congeners
Congeners are toxic by-products produced when alcohol is made. They slow the metabolising of alcohol and increase the frequency and severity of hangovers. Beverages high in congeners include bourbon whiskey, tequila and cognac. Try opting for congener-low options such as vodka, gin and rum if spirits are your preferred drink

Eat up
Eating a solid meal is important before you start drinking and on the morning after. Food helps to stabilise your body sugar levels and provide you with nutrients. Low blood sugar contributes to symptoms such as fatigue and nausea. Heavy drinking is also known to cause imbalances in the chemicals in your blood. Eating helps to balance them.

Drink more … water
Alcohol makes you pee more, meaning you lose more water, making you dehydrated. The loss of electrolytes and fluids makes it harder for your body to function normally, and can cause symptoms such as thirst, headache, fatigue and dizziness. Drink water while you are imbibing and before you go to bed. Have a glass ready for when you wake up. A drink containing electrolytes can also help you to replenish them and get back to normal faster.

Sleep it off
While a single night cap can initially help to induce sleep, excessive drinking throws off our sleep cycle and decreased sleep quality. Limited sleep can worsen a hangover and increase fatigue and irritability. Try to get to bed at a decent hour or allow yourself to sleep in.

Supplements
Research supporting the effectiveness of some supplements is limited, but when we wake up with a hangover, we may be more willing to open our minds to alternative remedies. Ginger can reduce nausea and vomiting when mixed with brown sugar and tangerine extract. A study has shown that prickly pear extract can half the severity of hangover symptoms. Red ginseng can reduce blood alcohol levels and hangover symptoms and eleuthero can reduce the severity of a hangover.

Hair of the dog
Having a drink the next morning can prevent your body’s conversion of methanol into toxic formaldehyde, which can cause hangover symptoms. While this can lessen symptoms by allowing formaldehyde to leave the body harmlessly, it could encourage unhealthy drinking habits, and is not recommended.

Have you become a much more cautious drinker as you’ve aged? Do you remember those times when you weren’t?

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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Written by Liv Gardiner

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