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Hangover

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As everyone knows, drinking too much usually results in a hangover. If the indulgence takes place in the evening, the hangover is not evident until next morning. When we consume alcohol, it results in the brain blocking the creation of a chemical hormone called Vasopressin. As a result, water is sent directly to the bladder which leads to constant urination.

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Hangovers need not happen. Mostly they happen due to our own negligence. With the right preventative measures it is possible to avoid a hangover totally.

According to studies and research, the ratio between the amount of alcohol consumed and the water expelled out of the human body is around 1:4. This is known as the diuretic effect and this is exactly what causes a hangover the next day.

Often the hangover is heightened by a group of substances called congeners. These are formed during fermentation, especially in drinks such as red wine, brandy and beer and irritate the lining of the stomach.

In addition smoking usually adds to the severity of a hangover.


Hangover impairs judgement, impairs the ability to do most things and it can bring on a depressed mood. But even after a drinker has sobered up, alcohol can still be causing the body trouble.

[edit] How does this affect me?

Because of the removal of excess water from the body, one tends to wake up with an extremely dry mouth and feeling dehydrated. Most time that is accompanied by headaches. The headaches occur because the different organs of the body remove the water from the brain to replenish themselves. As a result, the brain pulls on the membranes connecting it to the skull, leading to strain and headaches.

The body also loses sodium and potassium due to constant urination, which in turn leads to fatigue, nausea and headaches. Fatigue, lack of co-ordination and weakness is also because alcohol turns the glycogen in the liver into glucose and expels it along with the potassium and magnesium which are essential to cell function. Also different types of alcohol can cause different types of hangover.

[edit] All about hangovers

Alcohol is basically a drug. The body in the normal course produces enzymes to metabolize and remove toxins. But when the toxin level exceeds the body's ability to metabolize them in an efficient manner, unpleasant symptoms such as hangover occurs. The excess toxins may irritate your stomach, cause you to vomit, and in general, make you feel ill.

Alcohol also acts as a diuretic, increasing the release of urine from the body. This is because your kidneys and liver require water to dilute and process the toxins. When you drink alcohol, your body actually requires more water than usual in order to perform this function efficiently. If water and fluids are not readily available to aid in this detoxification process, the body redistributes whatever water is available. All parts of the body are affected by this redistribution of fluid, even the brain, making the head hurt.

Hangovers are primarily caused by acetaldehyde, a toxic chemical created as the body processes, or metabolizes alcohol. Scientists have long considered acetaldehyde to be more toxic to the body than alcohol itself. Numerous studies over the past 30 years have concluded that many, if not all of the pharmacological and behavioral effects of alcohol should be attributed to acetaldehyde. A recent study has even identified acetaldehyde as 'the hangover gene'.

In addition to hangovers, even in moderate drinkers acetaldehyde has been shown to increase the risk of contracting cirrhosis of the liver, multiple forms of cancer, and alcoholism. Some scientists have even suggested that alcoholism be renamed "acetaldehydism."

[edit] What can I do?

[edit] Prevention

  • Taking snacks with alcohol help ‘dilute’ the alcohol in your stomach.
  • Try sticking with lighter, clearer drinks because the darker alcohols such as red wine, brandy, whiskey contain more congeners than their clearer counterparts. Congeners are simply by-products of the alcohol fermentation process.
  • Do not drink cheap liquors as they tend to contain more left-over congeners. Lots of additives are added to many mixers to make them taste sweeter or just plain better tasting. Additives can really contribute to a more ‘amplified’ hangover.
  • Drink water. When your mouth becomes dry while drinking, it usually means you need a lot of water. Before you order your next drink take a glass of water.
  • Drink to what you know is your limits.
  • Avoid mixing different types of alcoholic beverages as mixing poses a much greater risk of acquiring a hangover.
  • One of the best ways to prevent a hangover is to make sure that one does not drink on an empty stomach.
  • It is also said that if one sticks to one drink per hour, it helps the body absorb the alcohol better.
  • Before going to bed, breathe in some fresh air and have a lot of water or juices that are rich in Vitamin C.

[edit] Cures

  • Having got a hangover, the best possible solution is to have copious amount of water. This helps to replace lost fluids. Or eat something light like a piece of toast to replace the blood sugar which the alcohol has destroyed and so help reduce weakness, dizziness and trembling.
  • A walk in the fresh air should also help to clear the head.
  • Activated charcoal is known to absorb congeners and is available in tablet form from most chemists. This should be taken before going to sleep.
  • Eggs can also be had as they have cysteine, which is said to absorb the destructive chemicals that build up in the liver when it's metabolizing alcohol.
  • To ‘cure’ a hangover some people drink black coffee which is not a good idea. For like alcohol, coffee itself is a diuretic ( a substance that increases the flow of urine) and prolongs the discomfort.

[edit] Alternative cures

Herbalists suggest that throughout the next day one should drink peppermint, nettle, chamomile or yarrow tea to help settle the stomach and liver.

Under naturopathy cure, bananas are supposed to be effective. They provide sugar as fructose and potassium. Bananas also act as a natural antacid to help with the nausea, and are high in magnesium help in reducing the headache.

  • Traditional medicine

Traditional medicine experts say that one of the oldest and most popular folk remedies is ‘the hair of the dog that bit you’- that is more alcohol. Although this will not cure a hangover, it may make one feel slightly stronger. A ‘prarie oyster’ made of raw egg immersed in liquid – usually Worcestershire sauce or vinegar- and swallowed whole is another supposed cure. Honey is also remedy of long standing : take 12 teaspoonful, either neat or in a little warm water. The honey will help to replace the blood sugar lost and its potassium content is also said to be beneficial.

  • Conventional view

Although doctors are not opposed to alternative hangover cures, they mostly agree that time is the best cure. If one is able to stay in bed, keep warm and take painkillers such as soluble aspirin or painkillers, it helps.

[edit] CopperBytes

  • Recent surveys show that to induce a hangover, it only takes an average of 3.2 drinks.
  • Some people, believe or not, need one or two drinks to cause a hangover, because they drink very infrequently.
  • 28% of red wine drinkers receive headache just with the first glass and 40% after the second glass.
  • 60% of people can receive an immediate headache just from one drink that doesn't agree with them.
  • Drink for drink, women are more likely to be hit with hangover symptoms than men

[edit] References

  • Hangover Cures
  • Hangovers
  • Hangover/Causes
  • The hangover network