Some people are more susceptible to hangovers than others for various reasons. Generally, the amount you drink dictates the likelihood of experiencing a hangover the next day. Other influencing factors include drinking darker-colored alcoholic beverages, drinking on an empty stomach, using other drugs, and not sleeping well. A hangover can be very unpleasant and may last up to 24 hours. Here are the reasons why you develop a hangover, its symptoms, and how to treat it.
Why do you get a hangover?
Various factors can cause a hangover. Alcohol is a diuretic that causes you to urinate more and can lead to dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include dizziness and confused thinking. Alcohol also irritates the lining of your stomach because it increases the production of stomach acid and delays bowel movement. It also causes your blood sugar level to fall, which may cause you to feel weak and shaky. Your blood vessels expand when drinking alcohol, which leads to headaches. Drinking too much also triggers an inflammatory response from your immune system.
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Symptoms of a hangover
The severity of your hangover symptoms will depend on several factors, including what you drank and how much you consumed. Some of the symptoms of a hangover include:
- Excessive thirst
- Fatigue and weakness
- Headache and muscle aches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Dizziness and shakiness
- Trouble sleeping
- Light and sound sensitivity
- Rapid heartbeat
- Lack of ability to concentrate
Prevention of a hangover
The only guaranteed way to prevent a hangover is to avoid alcohol. If you drink, try to drink in moderation. If you eat before and while drinking, the alcohol will not be absorbed by the body as quickly. Fatty foods like nuts, salmon and seeds delay absorption, and foods high in fiber like popcorn can also help. Drinking a full glass of water after each alcoholic drink will help you to stay hydrated and help you to drink less alcohol. Try to take it slow and avoid having more than one alcohol drink in an hour.
Treatment of a hangover
You may be tempted to try some traditional hangover remedies, such as drinking the “hair of the dog” or eating a greasy breakfast. This is not the best approach to treating a hangover. Here are some scientifically proven remedies.
- Drink fluids: When your body is sufficiently hydrated, it performs more efficiently. Your circulatory system carries nutrients and oxygen to your tissues and removes toxins from them. Many hangover symptoms are a result of dehydration, and drinking plenty of water throughout the day after drinking too much can help relieve them.
- Restore electrolytes: Sports drinks and any other drinks that contain electrolytes help your body to retain water. Soup broth is a good way to help to replenish your sodium levels. Electrolytes help to keep the balance between fluids inside and outside of your cells, and are vital to proper hydration. Your body needs electrolytes like sodium, potassium and calcium for many functions.
- Eat carbohydrates: As your blood sugar levels are low after drinking too much, you should try to eat to restore them even if your stomach is upset. Eating carbohydrates can help to raise your blood sugar levels. Fast-digesting carbs like toast or crackers will help to restore your energy levels without further affecting your sensitive stomach.
- Get lots of sleep: Sleep is essential to recovery, as it allows your body to recover and metabolize the alcohol.
- Take B vitamins: Alcohol can prevent your body from absorbing B vitamins and deplete your system of them. B vitamins, such as vitamin B12, can help you to metabolize alcohol and allow you to recover faster.
- Treat nausea: There are many different anti-nausea medications and herbal remedies to treat nausea. Cups of ginger tea can offer relief from nausea.
- Treat pain: Painkillers like aspirin or ibuprofen can help with headaches and body aches. Avoid Tylenol because mixing acetaminophen, its active ingredient, with alcohol can cause liver damage.