We’ve all been there. Sometimes the mood takes the best of us, and we have one or more glasses more than we should’ve had. It’s probably not the first time, and it definitely won’t be the last. Knowing what hangover is and why we experience it is the key to understanding how to cure it or avoid it altogether. The best way to cure a hangover is to eat, sleep, hydrate, and repeat, but nuances are important. It is what we eat, how we sleep, and how much we drink that makes all the difference.
What causes a hangover?
A simple answer is, of course, alcohol. A more detailed answer lies in a wide range of effects it has on our body with dehydration being the main cause of all problems. It’s all fun and games while we are drunk, but when the blood alcohol drops to near zero is when problems start.
Can’t bear light and sound?
This is because alcohol suppresses the glutamate activity in the brain. When we stop drinking, the body tries to compensate by increasing glutamate production.
Having a heavy headache?
Alcohol has diuretic effects that cause dehydration. In combination with acetaldehyde dilating the blood vessels in the head, this will cause a terrible headache.
Going to the bathroom often?
Alcohol damages the stomach and intestine lining which causes diarrhea. You will feel nauseated. Oh, and your farts will probably smell like something died inside you.
Are you tired and cranky?
Drinking limits the production of glucose in the body, and having low blood sugar causes fatigue, dizziness, and irritability.
Symptoms of hangover vary from person to person, and there are even those who almost never experience hangover (around 3% of the population), but those are also the people with a higher chance of becoming alcoholics because they lack the consequences of drinking too much. If you are lucky and do not fall into that 3% of population category, you will experience some or all of these symptoms:
- thirst and dry mouth
- fatigue and/or weakness
- muscle aches
- nausea and/or stomach pain
- problems with sleep
- sensitivity to light and sound
- troubles with concentration
- rapid heartbeat
Darker drinks = heavier hangover
All alcoholic drinks cause a hangover because of a toxic chemical, ethanol, that works as a diuretic and makes us dehydrated among other things, but some alcoholic drinks will make you feel worse than others. The answer lies in their color.
Congeners are chemical by-products of the fermentation process. They give alcoholic drinks their flavor and color. Methanol, tannins, and acetaldehyde as a toxic trio are found in higher concentrations in darker drinks than they are in lighter ones.
White wine is better than red, light beer is better than a dark one, and vodka and gin are better than whiskey and colorful liqueurs. The darker the alcohol, the more congeners there are, so if you want to make sure your hangover will not be as bad as it might be, choose lighter drinks instead of the darker ones. Yes, I am perfectly aware that those colored ones come with great taste too, unfortunately, and are harder to say no to.
How to cure a hangover
Sorry to disappoint you, but you can’t really cure a hangover. Instead, you can relieve some of its symptoms and make it more bearable. In the end, time will play a crucial role, and your body will need anywhere from 2 to 24 hours to get back to functioning normally. Probably the most important thing you need to know is:
THIS IS NOT A TIME TO EAT A SALAD!
Since we know that we are dehydrated and have a low amount of glucose in our blood, it’s time for carbs, fat, and liquid. This is not a time to “eat healthy” and opt for greens. Trust me, that magical veggie shake will not do the trick. Choose a greasy soup, eggs, heavy meat, or pasta. You need energy, and you need it fast. Junk foods such as a good old cheeseburger with fries will save you. Don’t believe me? Try it. Yes, you need fruit and veggies, but they are the long-game. If you want a quick fix, order yourself a pizza. And whatever you do, don’t drink coffee before you eat something.
Steps to handle your hangover:
- when you wake up, take a painkiller with half a liter of orange juice
- order or cook junk food and drink water while you wait
- now eat your junk food like a cheeseburger with fries or a pizza
- feel free to have your coffee now with a glass of water on the side
- try stretching, yoga, or light exercise even if you don’t feel like it. Even walking will help
- definitely try to go out in the sun or stand in the sun that is coming through your window, close your eyes if you’re too sensitive to light
- throughout the day, eat a banana, and yes, you can have your salad now
Orange juice has many nutrients like vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Since it contains antioxidants, it prevents oxidative damage, an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals. It will increase the pH of your urine and decrease inflammation in your body. This drink is high in calories and sugar and will provide you with a much-needed regeneration until you get something to eat. An orange juice is a great first step in the hydration process that you will continue by drinking water throughout the day.
While junk food is called junk for a reason, one of the magical things that it will do for you is raise your blood sugar level faster than a salad. Since these kinds of food are sodium-rich, they will help you replenish electrolytes and help with headaches and dizziness. Once you eat that cheeseburger and get your energy back, now you can continue your day with healthier options with a lot of fruit and veggies. Caffeine will help you feel more awake, but since your stomach is already struggling, avoid drinking coffee before you’ve eaten something first.
Eat, sleep, hydrate, repeat…
DISCLAIMER: Always listen to your own body and do not force yourself. If anything mentioned among advice in this text doesn't work for you, don't make your condition even worse by doing something that doesn't agree with you.
Tips for preventing hangover
Okay. So now we know what causes a hangover and how we can deal with it, but is there a way to avoid it altogether? Yeah, sure there is. If you want to be 100% sure that you won’t experience a hangover, don’t drink. Well, since this is easier said than done and we all love us that special magic potion that makes the world seem like a nicer place with people who are much more tolerable, if you do want to lower your chances of getting a hangover or decrease its symptoms, there are a couple of tricks that you should know.
Your body absorbs alcohol more quickly on an empty stomach. This is why you should always eat before and while drinking alcohol. If you want to avoid dehydration, remember to drink a glass of water after every alcoholic beverage, and try to choose drinks lighter in color because they have fewer congeners. In the end, moderation is key. Drink slow and enjoy the taste of your drink. Do not rush yourself. This will save you from a hangover while your wallet will stay full.
Until next time,
Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again my dear pagan soul. Rejoice in life, and life will rejoice in you. May God and Goddess bless you in everything you do and spirit guides follow you wherever you go.
In love and light,