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Drinking has been part and parcel of life for billions of people across the world. It has become a norm at every celebration, be it a college graduation, a wedding, or a simple night out with family members and friends. However, sometimes things may get out of control, making people drink a little more than their bodies can handle, causing uncomfortable symptoms. These symptoms, collectively known as a hangover, can bring pain and inconvenience to people and put them in multiple dangerous and highly risky situations. Hence, many people look for hangover self-care tips so that they can get the situation under control.
What Causes Hangover Symptoms: The Effects of Alcohol on the Body
Alcohol can routinely cause hangovers, but many people wonder why these symptoms occur. In reality, alcohol can harm the body in many ways, leading to the following issues:
Alcohol possesses strong diuretic properties, causing a person to urinate excessively. As a result, binge drinking can make a person lose a lot of fluid. Additionally, alcohol also causes a hormonal imbalance which further reinforces this dehydration, leading to hangover symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and increased thirst.
The body needs specific chemicals, called electrolytes, to perform optimally. Passing excessive urine can make the body lose these chemicals simultaneously, causing an imbalance and worsening the hangover symptoms.
Alcohol can irritate the cells lining the intestines and stomach while slowing down the rate of digestion and increasing pancreatic secretions and fatty substances in the liver and stomach. All these processes collectively lead to nausea and upset stomach.
Alcohol can inflame the entire body, causing general unwellness and reinforcing the feelings of a hangover.
While alcohol possesses sedative properties, its hangover symptoms can interfere with sleep, inducing insomnia and excessive fatigue, Moreover, it can also make the body struggle to regulate the temperature, which further makes sleeping difficult.
Quickest Way to Get Over a Hangover: Treatment Options
There is no definite way to treat a hangover episode; however, certain tips may help reduce the intensity of symptoms and shorten their duration. These tips may include the following:
Eat Bland Food
Consider eating bland foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as crackers and toast, to boost low blood sugar levels and combat nausea.
Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen and ibuprofen, can help manage muscle aches and headaches. However, use them with caution and only on a need basis, as their excessive consumption may upset the digestion system. Never take paracetamol or Tylenol to relieve hangover symptoms, as it may prove toxic for the liver.
Take an antacid to settle the issues related to the stomach, such as stomach burn and nausea.
Get Some Sleep
While sleeping cannot help a person overcome a hangover, it can reduce the fatigue related to these episodes.
Hangover symptoms will get milder within eight to 24 hours following the last drink. This time period is essential as the body needs it to clear the toxic byproducts of alcohol, heal tissue, rehydrate, and restore all functions to normal capacity.
Best Ways to Get Over a Hangover Through Diet
According to nutritionists, there are plenty of ways a person can utilize to control the symptoms of an alcohol-induced hangover. The concept behind these nutrition-related tips is to help the liver break down and process alcohol in every way possible. In this respect, keep the following tips in mind:
The liver is working over the top to override and neutralize a toxin called acetaldehyde present in alcohol. For this process to occur, the organ requires high levels of an amino acid called L-cysteine, which is abundantly available in eggs.
Alcohol is a natural diuretic that stops the pituitary gland from synthesizing vasopressin. As the levels of this hormone drop, it forces the kidney to reabsorb less water and excrete most of it through urine. The hydration level drops, causing an imbalance in electrolyte levels in the body. Both dehydration and loss of electrolytes can lead to multiple symptoms, such as shakiness, headaches, dizziness, muscle spasms, and fatigue. Coconut water can combat these symptoms by addressing water loss and electrolyte imbalance.
Home-Made Sports Drink
Make a DIY drink by mixing water, a pinch of sea salt, and freshly squeezed juice to replenish the lost electrolytes and water following a session of heavy alcohol consumption.
Bananas are naturally rich in an electrolyte called potassium which can be extremely beneficial for a person experiencing an upset stomach due to an alcohol hangover.
Consider adding a slice of fresh ginger root to a glass of water and drinking it to relieve the hangover symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
Supplementing the body with B-complex, vitamin B6 in particular, during a drinking session and after can also reduce hangover symptoms.
How to Get Over a Hangover Quicker: Finding the Right Pressure Point for Hangover
Many osteopaths and pain experts have suggested different ways to get rid of alcohol’s toxic byproducts, causing the body to bypass the negative symptoms. For this purpose, they have identified different acupressure points that may vary according to the symptom a person tries to relieve. Some of these symptoms and the pressure points to hit for their relief include the following:
According to experts, there is a pressure point present in the hand, particularly in the fleshy area between the thumb and finger. Known as LI-4, this point serves as a doorway to the large intestine, and applying pressure to it can help alleviate various hangover symptoms like constipation and headaches.
Rest the left hand on a table so that it makes an L-shape with the thumb and index finger. Use the thumb of the opposite hand to apply pressure on the pressure point and massage the area in small circular motions. Ideally, repeating the activity for up to 20 seconds is crucial for each hand.
Nausea and Overheating
To relieve these symptoms, the idea is to move energy away from the brain and use it to improve oxygen and blood flow in the stomach. For this purpose, bend the right knee at ninety degrees and feel the outside bone of the knee (called fibula) using the right index finger. Keep using the finger to move below the kneecap to feel a dip, known as the proximal tibiofibular joint. Use the right index and middle fingers to press into this dip for 10 to 20 seconds.
Calming the Body and Mind
To relax the mind and body, there is a pressure point for a hangover, which is located between the fourth and fifth toes. This pressure point is associated with decision-making and can relieve the symptoms, like negative self-talk, self-doubt, and paranoia, that may set in following a night of heavy drinking. This point also connects with the shoulders, and applying pressure to it can alleviate the pain in the neck and shoulders simultaneously.
For more similar tips, getting in touch with an osteopath can help.
Hangover Self-Care: Is it Possible to Prevent a Hangover?
For people looking to find tips for a hangover, the following techniques may help them prevent it altogether:
Hangover symptoms are less likely to hit people if they drink in smaller amounts. Prolonging the time between two consecutive drinks may make it longer for them to feel intoxicated. Even if they do experience intoxication, the symptoms are much less intense.
People who like drinking carbonated beverages with alcohol, for example, champagne, try drinking them slowly. The carbon dioxide bubbles in these drinks speed up the rate at which alcohol absorbs in the bloodstream.
Carefully Choose the Drink
Choose alcohol with lower levels of congeners as they may lead to lesser severe hangover symptoms. In general, lighter-colored drinks, such as gin, vodka, white wine, and light beer, typically cause milder symptoms than dark-colored drinks with higher congeners levels, such as tequila, bourbon, dark beers, and brandy.
For every glass of alcohol or beer you drink, drink a glass of plain water. This tip will help you prevent alcohol-induced dehydration while reducing the total amount of alcohol you consume.
Limit yourself to one drink per hour as it will help the body process the beverage optimally and without letting alcohol accumulate in the body. As the liver keeps metabolizing the drink side by side, intoxication never happens.
Eat Before Drinking
Having food in the stomach can slow down the rate at which the body absorbs alcohol into the bloodstream. Hence, consider eating something before going out for drinks. Having other drinks, such as fruit juice, ginger ale, or non-diet cola, can also interrupt alcohol absorption.
How long does it take to get over a hangover?
In general, the symptoms of a hangover last for 24 hours at least. You may experience intense symptoms worsening as the blood alcohol levels start dropping.
How common is it to experience an alcoholic hangover?
Hangovers typically occur in people who consume alcohol in excess. Studies have found that up to 75 percent of people who drink excessively report experiencing hangover symptoms the following day. Up to 30 percent of people may resist these symptoms despite drinking excessively.
How much alcohol can cause a hangover?
For most people, the risk of a hangover begins as soon as they consume more than one drink. The human body needs time to process alcohol, usually around one hour per drink. The standard for one drink is; however, different for different types of alcohol. For instance, one drink may be equal to:
- 12 ounces of beer with 5% alcohol
- 1.5 ounces of liquor with 40% alcohol
- 5 ounces of table wine with 12% alcohol
- 8 to 9 ounces of malt liquor with 7% alcohol
Will I be in trouble if I do not recover from hangover fast?
Alcohol-associated hangovers are much more than a collection of unpleasant symptoms. It may mess with thinking and judgment skills, impair attention and decision-making processes, and interrupt muscle coordination. Some people may start engaging in risky behaviors under intoxication, for example, reckless driving. Hence, it may be worth searching for how to get over a hangover to save yourself from all these risks.
When does a hangover require emergency care?
Call for emergency help right away in case you or someone you know has been drinking alcohol heavily and start experiencing the following symptoms:
- Slow breathing, typically less than eight breaths a minute
- Excessive confusion
- Severe vomiting
- Passing out or struggling to stay conscious
- Dropping body temperature, a condition called hypothermia
- Irregular breathing
- Bluish or pale skin
Can the “hair of the dog” method provide a hangover cure fast enough?
The hair of the dog is an expression that describes drinking more alcohol to get over the existing hangover symptoms. Many people believe this technique can help a hangover; however, experts believe doing so can lead to morning drinking and exacerbation of the existing symptoms. To overcome a hangover, a person’s blood alcohol levels must drop, and drinking more prevents it.
When should a person visit a healthcare provider for a hangover?
Hangovers usually go away on their own, even if a person doesn’t do anything to relieve it. As the blood alcohol levels drop, the body starts readjusting itself, making a person feel much better. However, it is crucial to seek help from a doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Frequent episodes of heavy drinking leading to hangovers
- Hangovers affecting the overall quality of life, including job and relationships
- Experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms as a part of the hangover
What should I ask my healthcare provider regarding alcohol hangovers?
For someone who is concerned about hangover symptoms, ask your doctor the following questions:
- Do I have any risk factors for alcohol use disorder?
- What can I do to prevent or minimize hangover symptoms?
- Do I have an alcohol allergy or intolerance?
- How much alcohol is safe to drink without getting hangover symptoms?