A hangover is an alcohol-induced headache that can ruin an otherwise great night and make you swear off drinks for good. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can use to recover from a hangover or even prevent one from happening at all.
Method One of Three:
1Eat something. Commonly referred to as "soakage", eating something before a night of moderate to heavy drinking definitely helps to lessen the effects of a hangover. In fact, the more you eat, the more time it will take for the alcohol to affect you. This is because food helps to reduce the formation of acetaldehyde in your stomach, and it is this substance that is thought to be the main cause of hangovers.
2Take vitamins. Your body uses up a lot of vitamins and nutrients when metabolizing alcohol, while alcohol itself destroys essential B vitamins. Depleted of these vitamins, your body has a tough time whipping itself back into shape, leading to the dreaded hangover. You can help your poor liver out by taking a vitamin supplement leading up to any major drinking event. For the most effective results, opt for B complex, B6 or B12 vitamins.
- Vitamin B supplements can be found in most drug stores and supermarkets, or you can increase your intake of B vitamins naturally by eating liver, meat and other animal products, such as milk and cheese.
3Have a spoon of olive oil. This may sound a little gross, but many Mediterranean cultures swear by this hangover prevention technique. Basically, it's the same principle as eating fatty food before drinking - the fat in the olive oil will limit your body's absorption of alcohol. So if you can stomach it, swallow a tablespoon of olive oil before you head out for the night.
- Alternatively, you can increase your intake of olive oil less directly by dipping some crusty bread into it, or drizzling it over a salad.
4Drink milk. Milk is often said to help prevent hangovers as it forms a coat on the lining of the stomach, which may help to limit the amount of alcohol that gets absorbed into your bloodstream. While there is little scientific evidence to back up the notion that milk helps to prevent a hangover, there are many people who swear by the method. If nothing else, milk is a healthy source of calcium and B vitamins, so drinking it can't hurt.Advertisement
Method Two of Three:
1Stick with one type of alcohol. Mixing drinks is your worst enemy when it comes to hangovers. This is because different alcohols contain various additives, flavorings, and other elements which, when combined, can give you the mother of all hangovers as your body struggles to process everything at once. Choose beer or vodka or wine or rum, but whatever you do, don't have them all in one night. Choose your drink and stick to it.
- Cocktails are particularly lethal, as they usually contain two or more alcohols mixed together. If you can't resist the bright colors and tiny umbrellas, try to at least limit yourself to a maximum of two Cosmopolitans!
2Choose light liquors. Dark liquors - like brandy, whisky, bourbon and some tequilas - have a higher concentration of toxins called congeners, which are formed during the process of fermenting and distilling alcohol. These toxins can contribute to the severity of your hangover, so if you're going to drink the hard stuff, stick with light colored liquors like vodka and gin to lessen your intake of toxins.
3Alternate alcoholic drinks with water. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it makes you urinate more, leading to dehydration. Dehydration is one of the major causes of hangover symptoms like thirst, dizziness and headaches. Therefore, the more water you drink to rehydrate before, during and after drinking, the less severe your hangover is likely to be the next morning.
- Have a big glass of water before you start drinking, then try to drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink that you have over the course of the night. Your body will thank you for it in the morning.
- Drinking water in between alcoholic drinks will also slow the speed of your alcohol consumption, preventing you from drinking too much too quickly.
4Avoid "diet" mixers. Mixers such as diet lemonade or diet cola are not a good idea when you're drinking. This is due to the fact that diet mixers contain no sugar or calories, without which the alcohol shoots directly into the bloodstream. Sticking with the regular version of mixers keeps a few calories in your system, which should work in your favor once morning rolls around.
- Even though regular mixers are better than diet versions, fruit juice is a better option than either. Juice is uncarbonated - which is good as any carbonated beverage increases the speed of alcohol absorption - while it also contains a certain amount of vitamins, which certainly doesn't hurt.
5Be careful with champagne and sparkling wine. Champagne and sparkling wine can literally go straight to your head. Studies have shown that the effects of bubbles in alcohol increases the delivery of alcohol through your system and cause you to become intoxicated faster.
- If you're at an event such as a wedding and you can't resist a little bubbly, try drinking just one glass of champagne during the toast and drink a different alcohol for the rest of the evening.
6Know your limits. Know your limits and stick to them. The hard reality is that if you drink too much alcohol, some form of a hangover is inevitable. A hangover is your body's natural way of clearing the toxins in alcohol from your body, so the more you imbibe, the nastier the hangover will be. The number of alcoholic beverages it takes to reach a state of intoxication varies from person to person and knowing your own limits is important. It's usually recommended that you don't have more than three beverages in any one to two hour period, and no more than five beverages in one night.
- Pay attention to how different types of alcohol affect you. No matter what the studies say, every person's ability to metabolize alcohol differs and you'll know by experience which beer, wine, spirit, or liqueur works for you or plays havoc with your body. Listen to your own body's reactions and take care accordingly.
- Keep in mind that regardless of all the preventative measures you can take, the only surefire way to avoid a hangover is not to drink at all. Failing that, you should pay close attention to quantity - the less alcohol consumed, the better your chances of avoiding a hangover. Simple as.
Method Three of Three:
1Rehydrate. As mentioned above, dehydration is the main cause of hangover symptoms. To head off dehydration in advance, pour yourself a large glass of water as soon as you get home, and drink it all before going to bed. Also remember to bring a glass or bottle of water with you to leave on your night stand and sip whenever you wake up throughout the night. You may need to get up to relieve yourself at 4 a.m. but you'll feel better for it in the morning.
- The next morning, regardless of how you feel, drink another big glass of water. Drink it at room temperature if water from the fridge is too hard on your stomach.
- You can also rehydrate and replace lost electrolytes by drinking energy drinks or coconut water. Flat ginger ale will help soothe an upset tummy, while orange juice will give you energy.
- Avoid caffeine the morning after drinking,as this will only dehydrate you further. If you absolutely need a hit, limit yourself to just one cup of coffee or have something less intense, like an iced tea.
2Eat a good breakfast. A moderately healthy, but hearty breakfast after a night's drinking can work wonders. The food will settle your stomach, while also giving you energy. Try some toast topped with a little butter and jam, or better yet, some scrambled eggs. The toast will soak up any excess alcohol left in your stomach, while the eggs contain proteins and B vitamins perfect for replenishing your body's natural resources.
- You should also eat fresh fruit to get the benefits of their high vitamin and water content. If you're on the go, try a fruit smoothie - healthy and satisfying!
3Sleep. When you go to bed drunk, your quality of sleep that night typically isn't very good, leaving you feeling tired and groggy the next morning. After getting up, drinking some water and having some food, allow yourself to go back to bed for a nap, if possible.
- It will take your body several hours to metabolize the alcohol, so you might as well sleep through a couple of them and hopefully you'll feel much better when you wake up!
4Distract yourself. The pain of a hangover can feel much worse if you just sit around stewing in it. It might be tough, but force yourself to get up, get dressed and go outside for some fresh air. A stroll around the park or a walk along the beach might be just what you need. If that sounds like too much work, try watching a movie, doing some reading or call a friend so you can piece together exactly what happened last night...
- Some people even advocate exercise as a great hangover cure, so if you're up for it, try breaking into a run and sweating out the toxins. Not for the faint of heart!
5Take a couple of painkillers. If your head is hurting, try taking a couple of painkillers such as aspirin or ibuprofen to ease the pain. Always take these pills in the morning, rather than the night before when you still have alcohol in your system. Alcohol is already a blood-thinner, and the painkillers will only thin your blood even further, which can be dangerous.
- Never take acetaminophen-based pills when you have alcohol in your system, as mixing these two substances can be very dangerous.
- Drinking the next day can have the effect of making you feel better, but remember that your body will have to metabolize all of the alcohol in your system at some point, so drinking more is simply prolonging the pain of recovery.
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To keep yourself from getting hungover, eat some fatty, high-carb foods like pizza or pasta before drinking to help absorb the liquor in your system. If possible, drink only one type of alcohol for the night, since mixtures are more likely to cause hangovers. Stick with light-colored drinks like vodka and gin and be wary of dark-colored liquors like brandy and bourbon, diet mixers, and bubbly drinks. Start the night with a big glass of water, then make sure you have at least 1 glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you drink. For tips on curing a hangover, read on!
- Avoid smoking. Smoking constricts your lungs and decreases the oxygen flow to your blood stream.
- Cheese and nuts are good foods to snack on while you're drinking because the high fat content slows the absorption of alcohol. When in a bar, eat slowly while you drink.
- In terms of amount of alcohol consumed, 12 oz of beer = 5 oz of wine = 1.5 oz of spirits. Don't think you're imbibing less because you're having white wine instead of Jack Daniels and Coke.
- If your stomach is upset, use over-the-counter antacid treatments.
- If you're a woman or of Asian descent, you might want to consider having a little less because your metabolism makes you more susceptible to hangovers. Women tend to have a lower metabolic rate due to a higher ratio of body fat and Asians tend to have lower levels of alcohol dehydrogenase, an enzyme that breaks down alcohol.
- Some people find that taking a capsule of milk thistle helps alleviate hangover symptoms. The research is still out on this one but if it works for you, then use it.
- Have green salad for snacks. They re-hydrate you and supply nutrients.
- Remember: NEVER drink and drive! It's not a question of whether you are legally intoxicated, it's a question of whether or not it is safe to drive when you have consumed any amount of alcohol. Research shows that impairment begins long before a person reaches the blood alcohol concentration level necessary to be guilty of drunken driving.
- NEVER combine Tylenol, Paracetamol, or other brand of Acetaminophen with alcohol because the damage to your liver can be severe! Take aspirin if you must take a painkiller.
- Just because you've taken preventative steps, that doesn't mean you won't get drunk. Always drink responsibly.
- Always read the label on vitamins or any other drugs, especially the health warnings, to ensure that there will be no adverse side effects when mixed with alcohol.
- Be careful when consuming alcohol and caffeine. Too much caffeine mixed with too much alcohol can lead to a severe, and possibly fatal, increase in heartbeat.
- Using "Chaser" or any other congener-blocking drug does not prevent individuals from getting drunk. They only prevent or lessen the effects of a hangover.