It can be fun to enjoy a few drinks with friends, but if you aren't careful with your drinking, the hangover you suffer from the next day is anything but a good time. Unfortunately, there is no single, sure-fire cure for a hangover, but there are some steps you can take both before and after you begin drinking that can help get rid of a hangover if you get one.
What Is a Hangover?
Excessive alcohol consumption causes several physiological effects on the body. Dehydration is one of the top causes of a hangover. Toxic alcohol poisoning, which occurs when the body has more alcohol than it can absorb, also causes hangover symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Headache or body aches
- Sensitivity to light or noise
The extent of the symptoms will vary for every person, depending on how their individual body processes alcohol. Hangovers may last from six to 24 hours, depending on how much alcohol was consumed and what steps are taken for a cure. If the symptoms persist or are unusually severe, it is best to seek medical help. What may seem like a bad hangover could be a serious cases of alcohol poisoning.
Common Sense Ways to Cure a Hangover
There is no single way to cure a hangover, and different cures will work better for different people. The most important thing to remember is that your body needs time to rest and recover from the overindulgence. Treating your body well when you have a hangover can help you overcome the symptoms more easily.
Popular hangover remedies include:
- Sleep: The longer you can rest, the more energy your body can use to process the alcohol and end the hangover. Sleeping in the next day can help you overcome even the worst symptoms. A cool, dark, quiet place will be the most comfortable for sleep to help you overcome a hangover.
- Staying hydrated: Alcohol dries out the body, which leads to many of the most uncomfortable hangover symptoms. Drinking plenty of water helps cure a hangover, or choosing juices or sports drinks can be even more effective at not only re-hydrating your body but also replacing lost vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
- Shower: Taking a shower can help you shrug off the remainder of a mild hangover. Alternate between cool water to help constrict blood vessels and warm water to relax the muscles for the best effects.
- Exercise: Mild exercise, such as a gentle swim or brisk walk, can help the blood circulate and oxygenate the muscles to help relieve hangover symptoms. Exercise can also encourage you to drink more to stay hydrated, which will also help cure a hangover.
- Eat: If you do not suffer from nausea, a nutritious meal can help lessen hangover symptoms. A warm broth or soup to replace salt in the body or eggs, bananas, or other fruit to replace vitamins and nutrients are good foods, but avoid junk foods that won't help your body recover.
Cures That Don't Work
There are many popular hangover cures that don't actually do anything to help the body recover from the effects of excessive alcohol consumption. While these "cures" may help temporarily alleviate hangover symptoms, they will wear off and the effects may be even worse than before. Try to avoid these ways to cure a hangover:
- Hair of the Dog: The "hair of the dog that bit you" theory is that having more alcohol the morning after overindulging will keep your body from crashing as the alcohol's effects wear off. Instead, however, extra drinks just force your body to keep metabolizing even more alcohol and ingesting more toxins, which will make the hangover last even longer.
- Strong Coffee: Black coffee may help you wake up when your body isn't fully rested and is suffering from a hangover, but coffee – or any strong caffeine drink – will make you even more dehydrated, strengthening the effects of the hangover.
Professional Tips for Dealing with a Hangover
According the WebMD.com, following these five simple tips can help you limit the damage alcohol does to your body, and maybe even help prevent you from overindulging in the first place.
- Know your limit and stick to it.
- Drink plenty of water to combat the dehydrating effect of alcohol.
- Never drink on an empty stomach.
- Sleep to give your body time to recover.
- Take two aspirin the before you go to bed and again after you wake up to lessen your chances of a headache.
The most important tip of all is to call your physician if your hangover symptoms are severe. Overindulging can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can be life threatening.
The Best Cure
The very best way to cure a hangover is to avoid getting one in the first place. Consume alcohol responsibly, and take time to eat a meal or snacks while drinking so the alcohol is absorbed with the food to lessen its effects. Drinking water between alcoholic drinks will help you stave off the dehydration that is responsible for many hangover symptoms, and drinking extra water before going to bed can also be helpful. By knowing your limits, drinking responsibly and avoiding overindulgence, you may never need to know how to cure a hangover.