Did you have one drink (or a few) too many last night, and now you’re paying the price? A hangover is, in basic terms, the body attempting to deal with an excessive intake of toxins (it is called intoxication for a reason). Everyone seems to have a fool-proof cure for a hangover, but the truth is that time is the best remedy. There are helpful ways to deal with that hangover the next day while you wait for it to pass, though.
Part One of Three:
Trying to Get Rid of a HangoverEdit
1Re-hydrate your body. Whether this can truly shorten or lessen a hangover or not, it is a fact that alcohol consumption does contribute to fluid loss and that re-hydrating is essential to getting your body back into balance.
- Drink lots of water the day after a night of drinking. Try carrying a refillable bottle around with you. It’s a good habit to get into even when you’re not hungover.
- Sports drinks are also a good choice because they provide electrolytes and sodium, which are at less-than-optimal levels during dehydration.
- Your blood sugar level can also be lowered by dehydration due to alcohol consumption, so also consider fruit juices, which provide ample amounts of fructose.
2Manage painful symptoms with medications. There are plenty of supposed one-pill hangover cures out there, but none of them have rigorous scientific evidence of efficacy. It is wiser to stick with tried-and-true medications. Painkillers can be helpful if you have body aches or a throbbing headache, but take precautions with the most typical choices.
- Aspirin-based painkillers, along with those containing ibuprofen, may irritate an already-irritated stomach, so use them in moderation.
- Painkillers containing acetaminophen (also known as paracetamol), such as Tylenol, must also be taken with care. They can be hard on your liver, which is already in a weakened state while trying to clear the alcohol toxins from your body. Talk to your physician if you regularly consume alcohol or have existing liver issues.
- Antacids may be helpful with a hangover-induced upset stomach, and multivitamins can help replenish your levels of key vitamins and nutrients.
3Eat sensibly. Some people insist that a big, greasy breakfast, or lots of carbs that will “soak up” the alcohol in your body, are the key to curing a hangover. In reality, though, replenishing diminished nutrient levels should be your main goal.
- Thin, broth-based soups provide nutrients and sodium while being easy on the stomach.
- Bland foods like toast and crackers can also be a good choice if your stomach is upset, and they can help raise your blood sugar level as well.
- Potassium is a key nutrient that is lost with dehydration, so choosing foods rich in it — bananas being the most well-known, but also potatoes, leafy greens, and others — can help restore your level.
- The bacon and sausage of the big, greasy breakfast that some swear by are more likely to further upset your stomach. The eggs, however, are full of protein and nutrients and may be of benefit.
4Check out How to Get Rid of a Hangover for more details on potential remedies. Take these remedies, and any others you come across, with a grain of salt, however. The truth is that there is little scientific evidence that anything other than time — that is, waiting for it to pass — is truly effective in treating a hangover.Advertisement
Part Two of Three:
Working Around a HangoverEdit
1Accept that rest is best. Giving your body a sufficient period of rest in which to clear the body of toxins, restore hydration and nutrient levels, and alleviate discomfort is the most sensible way to deal with a hangover the day after.
- Keep in mind that hangovers can last for up to 72 hours; basically, the more you play, the more you'll pay.
- You probably don’t have the luxury of dedicating a whole day (or more) to resting through a hangover, but even short periods of rest or “power naps” can benefit your healing process.
2Know your limitations. If you’ve experienced a hangover before, the common symptoms will be all too familiar. These can include headache, sluggishness, nausea, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and sensitivity to light, sound, and motion, among others.
- Keep in mind, however, that you are also likely to experience a decrease in your coordination, memory, reaction time, visual and spatial recognition, and attention span as well.
- So, you might be able to go into work with a hangover, but don’t expect to function at peak performance. Also, take care driving and doing delicate or hazardous tasks.
3Get some fresh air. Taking deep breaths of clean air is never a bad idea, and can only help in your body’s recuperation. If it’s a beautiful sunny day, grab some dark glasses to ward off any light sensitivity and let your sour hangover mood be enhanced by the great outdoors.
- Light exercise, like taking a walk, can raise your metabolism and help the “flushing out” process. Remember that you’re still at least slightly dehydrated, though, so keep drinking water and don’t over-exert yourself.
- Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day to keep hydrating.
4Make the best of your day at work. Monday is a common “hangover day,” which means heading into work for many, raging headache and sour stomach or not.
- If you have some flexibility, this would be a good day to go in a little later than usual. Any additional rest you can take will help your body recharge and repair.
- For that matter, if you can manage a “power nap” or two at work — without finding a termination notice stuck to your sleeve when you wake up — that can help as well.
- You’re not going to earn that promotion today, but pushing through your daily routine (with sensibly lowered expectations) might help you deal with your hangover.
5Keep yourself occupied. Whether you’re struggling through a day at work or battling your hangover at home, finding engaging tasks that keep you busy can help take your mind off your discomfort.
- Tasks around home like cleaning might be a welcome distraction to pass the time, but unless you really enjoy vacuuming, you may want to find tasks that both keep you busy and interested, perhaps like doing puzzles or gardening.
- If you have options at your job — preparing a presentation versus completing a stack of HR forms, for instance — try to choose what will energize your mind and body.
- Try to avoid making key decisions, however; remember that you mind is not at 100%.
6Consider “hair of the dog” only as a last resort. Some believe the best way to cure a hangover is to start drinking again. All you’re doing is delaying (and intensifying) the inevitable pain, but if you need to feel a bit better soon and for a short while, maybe — just maybe — consider this.
- By the way, the phrase “hair of the dog” comes from an old belief that covering a wound with hairs from the dog that bit you would ward off rabies. In both cases, you are using what hurt you to cure you. Also, each cure is about equally effective (meaning it's not really effective).
- Keep in mind, however, that a strong urge to drink again after a binge the previous night may be a sign of a drinking problem.
Part Three of Three:
Preventing the Next HangoverEdit
1Remember how your hangover feels. If you had a great time on Saturday, and suffered the consequences on Sunday, perhaps Monday is the day to do a more rational analysis of whether you want to undertake the overindulgence-to-hangover cycle again next weekend.
- Would your night out have been significantly less enjoyable if you had consumed alcohol in moderation? Give it a try next time and see — and compare how you feel the day after as well.
- A hangover is, like a stomach-ache after eating too much or sore muscles after over-exertion, your body’s way of signaling that you have overdone it. Think about whether you and your body would be better served by moderation.
2Plan ahead for next time. If you are heading back out there next weekend, there are some strategies you can employ, other than just avoiding or limiting alcohol intake, to possibly limit the severity of your next hangover.
- Eat food and drink water. This has less to do with absorbing or diluting the alcohol content in your body, as some may assume, and more about simply filling up space with something other than alcohol. By eating and drinking a glass of water between each round of alcohol, you are likely to markedly decrease the amount of alcohol you consume.
- Try to drink a glass of water before crashing into bed as well, to help deal with dehydration.
- Consider changing what you drink as well as how much you drink. Your body may react differently to the different compounds in various alcoholic beverages, for reasons such as a food intolerance. See if it helps to switch up your drinks of choice. But remember, alcohol is alcohol, whatever the type or brand, and your body has to work to get rid of it.
3Don’t be afraid to seek help. If don’t feel able to moderate your drinking to prevent your next hangover, or if your frequent hangovers are affecting your job or your social relationships, know that there are a multitude of organizations, people, and programs that can and will help you deal with your problems with alcohol.Advertisement
Are hangovers permanent?Answered by Chris M. Matsko, M.D.
- Hangovers are not permanent. Hangovers occur when you consume too much alcohol for your body to metabolize. You urinate a lot of fluid out of your body and your liver cannot keep up with the alcohol metabolism. You become dehydrated. In severe cases of alcohol consumption you may need to go to the ER for IV fluids. If you have passed out due to alcohol intoxication or are vomiting endlessly, I would see the advice of an ER doctor immediately.