Hangovers: All you need to know

Hit the bottle too hard? Here’s some worthwhile advice on recovery

By Barbara Pierce

Hangovers are excruciating, agonizing and tormenting.

You feel so terrible that even walking down the block seems impossible.

Drinking too much alcohol causes hangovers.

Whether or not you get a hangover depends on your weight, when you last ate, what type of alcohol you drank and how long you spent drinking it.

Some people may feel hung over after as few as two or three drinks; others can tolerate many more. About 23% of all drinkers are resistant to hangovers altogether.

Some drinks cause more intense hangovers. Darker alcohol, like bourbon, has a substance that can worsen hangover symptoms. Wine contains sulfites that are preservatives. People who have sensitivities to sulfites may get a headache after drinking wine.

Alcoholic carbonated beverages are absorbed faster due to the carbonation, which can cause you to get much drunker much faster, setting you up for a nasty hangover.

Hangover symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, decreased sleep, fatigue and brain fog.

They begin several hours after you stop drinking when the blood-alcohol concentration begins to fall.

The symptoms peak when the blood-alcohol concentration in the body returns to about zero. The symptoms can last from a few hours to 24 hours or longer.

What helps?

What’s the best hangover cure?

“I wish I could offer something to help, but there’s no medication that will help a hangover,” said a pharmacist in Utica.

“There is no magic hangover cure, just ways to ease the pain,” said a pharmacist in Herkimer. “If you have a headache, take Advil to ease the pain. Make sure you have some food in your stomach.”

“Don’t use a Tylenol or ibuprofen or anything that contains acetaminophen as it can cause liver damage when combined with alcohol,” she said. The combination of alcohol and acetaminophen can be toxic to the liver.

“And stay hydrated,” she said.

“Only time can help,” advises the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse online. “There is no way to speed up the brain’s recovery from alcohol use — drinking coffee, taking a shower, or having an alcoholic beverage the next morning will not cure a hangover.”

There is no one-size-fits-all hangover cure because everyone’s body is different. You will have to find what works best for you and it will likely be a combination of things.

We like these tips from thespruceeats.com:

— Get some sleep: As your body needs to recover, stay in bed as long as you can. Even an extra hour or two of sleep will help out tremendously.

— Drink water or juice: Water is the first thing you should drink in the morning. The alcohol you drank last night dehydrated your body and the best way to feel better is to rehydrate it. Continue drinking water over the next few hours; however, too much can make you feel worse.

While some people swear by Gatorade and other sports drinks, there’s no evidence that these work better than water or juice.

— Avoid caffeine: A weak cup of coffee may be OK, but an entire pot will only dehydrate you more and it may make your headache worse.

— Try sweet tea. The sugar and caffeine will give you a little boost without dehydrating you too much. Most teas have less caffeine than coffee.

If you’ve got to have caffeine, drink one glass of water for every caffeinated beverage. This will help counteract the dehydration side effects.

Nurse your way back

— Eat something: Food may seem like the last thing you want right now, but it can help. Begin with something bland, like a piece of bread, crackers or pretzels, or a banana.

— Get up and move: When even standing seems like a challenge, it takes willpower to get up and move. This isn’t a magic cure, but it can help. It can also increase your metabolism, ridding your body of the toxins faster.

Even a short walk in the fresh air can do wonders. If your hangover is at the level where even that is not a good idea, take a few minutes to just sit outside and breathe.

No one who has ever had a hangover wants to hear this, but the only certain cure is time.

“Totaled, plastered, crocked, polluted. Zonked, loaded, smashed … ” Teens in the cartoon “For Better or Worse” are trying to think of as many words that mean the same as “drunk.

“How about ‘stupid?’” the younger sister suggests.

She’s right.

Hangovers are our body’s way of reminding us that it’s stupid to drink too much. For most of us, the best way to prevent a hangover is to drink responsibly.

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