So it just so happened that New Year’s eve came just before the weekend this year, which only means one thing… a lot more drinking, partying, indulging and even if you over did it on Thursday night, chances are you are ready for action again on Saturday even if you took Friday off. Its only human, and sometimes its not even recklessness. Friends are in from out of town, its the weekend, the end of the holiday season, and why would you not go out to dinner and lose track of the amount of glasses of wine you had; or if you go out for drinks and have one shot too many; or even stay at home and forget that your craft beer has nearly double the alcohol content of ordinary beer? Its not always your fault unless you swear never to drink again knowing that even 3 drinks will give you a hangover. But for the casual drinker who looses track of anything after the 2nd glass of wine, its not being reckless, but you do have to pay the penalty regardless if your liver can’t handle it.
So what exactly is a hangover anyway? Its when someone drinks too much and the toxins in the alcohol over-ride the body’s ability to process them quickly enough to flush them out before they catch up with you. Keep in mind this is not always restricted to alcohol but other things as well such as eating very salty foods, fatty foods, etc. And, in fact, you can also get a hangover and even die if you drink excessive amounts of water. How? Well, salt is the only mineral the body does not produce which is necessary to life itself. If there is only a trace of salt in your body and you drink excessive amounts of water, that will flush the salt out of your system and your brain will swell up into the skull resulting in something far worse than a hangover, if not death. Though rare, there have been scenarios reported where college students will go long periods of time without eating and/or eating improperly, which is common. This would be further compounded by not wanting to participate in beer keg parties and drinking a lot of water in its place since it is cheaper or even free. There are also instances when fraternities are banned from forcing new underaged members from drinking, so they force them to do 100 shots of water instead, which is just as dangerous and even deadly.
Knowing this as an establishing point, its important to know how and when hangovers occur, because they are serious. Of course, the primary rule is to not over drink, but the most basic cardinal rule of drinking at all, is to never do anything on an empty stomach. Make sure you eat before (not after) a night of drinking. And while drinking, don’t be afraid to pass on an alcoholic beverage and ask for a seltzer or club soda instead to pace yourself. People will laugh and squawk at you for doing this, but you will be the one laughing the next day when they are home in bed and you will be enjoying the day as planned whether it be a ski trip, island visit, or even a trip to the big city.
By now most people would have scrolled down to the numbered bullet points of how to avoid a hangover, foolishly ignoring what causes it in the first place. So here you go.
- Do not over indulge: The rule holds true for anything in life. Don’t overeat, don’t over drink, don’t over exercise, don’t over do anything at all when it comes to consuming something into your body.
- There are no known proven or confirmed cures for a hangover: Just like the common cold, there are tons of remedies, and some might work or at the very least, take the edge off the symptoms, but remember, its always a 12-48 hour penalty, so be prepared to let it run its course if you have no self-control.
- Prevention: Remember to eat no matter how busy you are or where you are. Even in a worst-case scenario, stop by the nearest fast food restaurant drive through for a burger and fries before going out to drink if the place you are going does not have something to eat. Food will slow the alcohol absorption into the body, which means food will slow it down while its trying to cause havoc on your liver.
- Drink Water: if you forget to drink it before, definitely drink it afterward. When you come home, drink at least a 16 ounces of water and take an asprin before going to bed, and leave a bottle of it next to your bed in case you wake up in the middle of the night or when you wake in the morning groggy.
- Eat: If you wake up and you have not followed any of the previous rules, have a full breakfast of proteins, carbs, and fat to counteract all the stuff your body is lacking to combat the abuse your system has endured.
- Do not mix: Do not go from wine to beer to vodka to whiskey. This is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. Pick a drink and stick with it. And if you are going out for some serious drinking, go for the clear alcohols like gin or vodka. The brown, aged spirits like tequila, whiskey, scotch, bourbon, etc., will only compound the hangover because they have more elements in them that needs extra processing by the liver.
- Start Drinking Again: NOT recommended. This was a Humphrey Bogart cure which really does not work well. The famous actor, who was equally famous for drinking, would suggest having the “hair of the dog”, or, another drink. This will only give you temporary relief like a cup of strong coffee, but ultimately you are just prolonging the hangover by adding to it even if its only temporary relief.
- Stay in bed: Have plenty of water on hand as well as bread for toast with butter, just sleep it off. Rather than be awake and suffer, just chalk up your stupidity to experience and try to sleep it off. It will be less painful, and the body will just process all the toxins that much faster so you recover more quickly.
- Double up on Vitamins: B12 especially will help boost your body from recovery.
- Take common safe remedies: There are plenty of them out there that will help ease the discomfort, but NEVER take any that your body is allergic to and/or has a hard time with. Common remedies most people can tolerate are aspirin, Alka-Seltzer, Advil, Excedrin Migraine, etc – again, know your body and what medications (over the counter or prescribed) your body can handle.
There are also a number of products by companies who have studied and have some proof that their remedies help. They cite reasonable research and reasons why their product might work, but like anything examine the product and do further research.
Pre-packaged cures which specifically cater to drinkers:
Dihydromyricetin, also known as Hovenia has been around for hundreds of years, is all natural and claims to be effective before or even after drinking.
Forget Hangovers: forgethangovers.com
Prime Hangover Preventer: www.timeforprime.com
Bottom line: Don’t be an irresponsible dumbass. Drink in moderation, and if you have no self control or even if you don’t realize how much you drank, stay in bed, pay the consequences and keep better track of your consumption next time you attempt to go out or stay in for an evening of drinking.