Few things are worse than the world tilting when you roll over after a night out with friends. The headache slowly creeping to your temples, your mouth insatiably dry, your eyes upset that you've decided to open them. While there's no cure for a hangover other than not overindulging, you can't go back in time after all, but there are a few things you can do to ease the pain. As with anything you do for your health, consider what's best for you or consult your doctor.
How to Cure a Hangover With Water
A hangover leaves your body dehydrated, feeling much like sand has replaced every part of your body, or at the very least, you haven't consumed a drop of water in weeks. Alcohol dries out the body, which causes many hangover symptoms, including those aching joints and that pounding headache. Drinking plenty of water helps ease and eventually cure a hangover.
Drink Electrolyte Beverages
You may not be a professional athlete needing to replace electrolytes after a championship game or a toddler with a bad stomach flu, but electrolyte beverages can help your body recover from the dehydration caused by a hangover. By helping your body restore nutrients, minerals, and hold on to the liquids to rehydrate faster, these are a booster to the water you're chugging.
Have Some Coffee
When sipped in moderation, emphasis on moderation since lack of moderation is how hangovers happen in the first place, coffee can help a hangover by giving a little extra pep to your step. If you're going to want to nap later, however, maybe skip the caffeine intake. It's a wives' tale that coffee dehydrates, but you're still better off using water for hydration and drinking coffee to give your body that much-needed energy boost. Caffeine can also help ease the headache brought on by the hangover.
Drink Ginger Ale and Bitters
If you ever tell your bartender that you're hungover, they'll offer you the hair of the dog or a ginger ale with bitters. The antacid-nausea-upset stomach curing bar remedy is a go-to within the restaurant industry. Bitters are a digestive aid, and most everyone is familiar with ginger ale when they're sick or have an upset stomach. Together, this magical duo will not only help your hangover, but it'll make it easier to stomach that bar tab. This concoction is great for any upset stomach, as well, not just those nagging hangovers.
Simply pour some ginger ale over ice in a glass and add up to four drops of bitters. Give it a quick stir, then slowly sip your hangover away. If you're in a bad place, take a sip from a ginger ale can, add the bitters, then give it a swirl. You're going to be just fine.
Sip Ginger Tea
If you need a stronger ginger flavor, or the idea of a sweet and fizzy drink is too much for you, fresh ginger tea will get that soothing ginger healing into your body. Ginger helps digestion, reduces or alleviates your nausea, and has antioxidants--all things your body could use a little help with today.
You can make regular ginger tea or use fresh ginger by peeling, slicing, and steeping about one inch of ginger in hot water. Remove the ginger pieces before sipping.
Take Pain Relievers
Pain relievers can be a double-edged sword with your liver already working overtime to process the alcohol. So long as your doctor finds no issues with ibuprofen or aspirin, then this is a great answer to several hangover symptoms, the first being your relentless headache, the other the aches and pains that seem to radiate from your head to toes. Be sure to try and take any medication with some food in your stomach and a full glass of water.
Be a BRAT
You might want to drag yourself to a local diner or just to the kitchen, to make a greasy breakfast. But start small, and give your body and stomach a chance to stabilize. Opt for the BRAT approach if possible: banana, rice, applesauce, or toast. Another great option? Crackers. Easy for the stomach to process without anything to upset it too much.
Indulge in Greasy Foods
If your stomach is stable enough, and it's gurgling, and you're able to stand upright, you can treat yourself to some greasy food. That well-rounded fat, protein, and carb meal can put some sustenance back into your body, but don't go overboard. Skip the overly packed plate or loaded cheeseburger; opt for smaller portions. Another industry secret is there's nothing, no hangover, no heartbreak, no bad shift, that a few cheeseburger sliders and a side of fries can't make better.
Take It Easy
It's time to live your best version of a distraught Victorian and lay down wherever your body finds it (safely) comfortable. Are the cool tile floors of the bathroom the only thing soothing? Go ahead and get cozy. Is your couch calling your name? Grab a blanket and make that your new home. Just want to crawl back into bed? Don't forget to nab a bottle of water on your way there. Get cozy and stop fighting gravity. While you're there, go ahead and watch some tv if your head can handle it. Laughter is one of the best medicines, and this is an excellent time to get caught up or rewatch an old favorite.
Take a Nap
While you're lying down is a great time to drift off to sleep, whether you're going back to sleep or taking an afternoon nap, nothing speeds a hangover up faster than sleep. You get to skip feeling lousy; instead, you can wander through dreams where hangovers don't exist. Set an alarm if you know you'll be anxious about sleeping your day away...or don't. This is your hangover, and no one can tell you what will make things better for you other than you.
Rinse It Off
If standing doesn't make you woozy, few things can help you feel more refreshed or ready to face the day than a shower. Taking a second to wash away the sweat, grime, or spilled tequila can clear the mind and give you a clean slate to face anything that comes your way. Starting to feel woozy? No one says you can't sit while you shower. Don't forget some water to drink too; consider yourself a droopy house plant that needs rain.
Take a Multivitamin
Science is a bit split. Some swear that a multivitamin can get your body back up and running, some say it does nothing. Others believe you should take it before going to bed after drinking. So long as your doctor finds no issue with it, there's no reason not to give your body that assist. Whether you want to take it in the morning with your cup of coffee or last thing the night after drinking before getting into bed is up to you.
Try Hair of the Dog
Perhaps the most hotly debated hangover cure, it is a fine line of do or don't. The alcohol numbs what you're currently feeling by lessening the pain. However, it will further dehydrate and keep your liver in high gear as it processes the alcohol. If you're at brunch and that Bloody Mary makes your body light up with joy, go ahead and have one. But don't have more than one or two, as your hangover will be back with a force as you sober up. Continue to hydrate more than usual as you sip a cocktail. Maybe a mocktail Bloody Mary would be best.
Like Your Water Last Night, Skip These
If you don't want your hangover to grow in size or you don't want to make things worse, these are a few things to skip.
- Exercise: Unless your hangover is light enough to need no extra assistance other than a single glass of water, skip the workout. Your body is already low on hydration and in need of electrolytes. Don't push it to sweat and dehydrate it even more. A great option is going for a short walk outside to get some fresh air.
- Sauna: Similar to exercising, a sauna can make you sweat out all that precious water you've been chugging. If you need to sweat out your hangover and can't imagine going without it, take it easy and stay briefly. Or sit for five or so minutes in a hot bath.
- Junk food: Skip the candy or sugary treats. Your blood sugar is already wonky. Give your body a chance to stabilize.
- Energy drinks: While they do have caffeine, the sugar won't do you any good.
- Going for a drive: While getting fresh air feels like a great idea, your body is sluggish, and your reactions probably aren't at their peak. Call it a day and stay home if you can.
Take It Easy
When you're out drinking, eat before you start imbibing, and as you're enjoying your night, have some liquids other than alcohol. Whether it's a club soda with a lime, still water, or a cola, try and split up your cocktails with something nonalcoholic. You can even throw a mocktail in the mix between drinks. Overindulging can be dangerous, especially if it's a frequent occurrence.
If your symptoms become too severe, and you're unable to keep anything down or drink water, contact your doctor immediately to prevent, or treat, alcohol poisoning and to have the advice of a medical professional to help you. Your doctor has been through it all, and no need to feel awkward when reaching out.
An Ounce of Prevention
The best way to treat a hangover is to avoid it altogether. However, things happen, and sometimes the night gets away from you. Try to avoid drinking on an empty stomach, and certainly avoid chugging drinks or taking several shots at once. Order a glass of water with every drink or opt for drinks that are a bit lower in alcohol, such as an Aperol spritz or gin and tonic. Look out for your future self so you can spend the next day doing what you want, not answering every beck and call of your hangover.