Help for a hangover

Ever wondered what exactly causes a hangover — besides the obvious answer of too many drinks?

Hypoglycemia — When you drink alcoholic beverages, it causes your liver to break down stored energy and flush it out of your system. The woozy, wobbly feeling you may have the next morning is the same that you may have if you fast for a long period of time.

Dehydration – Alcohol is a diuretic, which means is causes your body to produce more moisture than you are putting into it.

Congeners — These are some of the chemicals in alcohol. They are the impurities produced during the fermentation such as metals and zinc added mostly to sweet liqueurs to enhance flavour.

Irritation of the gastrotestinal system — Alcohol can cause nausea and intestinal distress.

Lack of sleep — When you drink in excess, you are not as likely to fall into REM sleep. This is why you may not feel rested, even if you’ve had several hours of sleep.

Now that you know why a hangover happens, what can you do if you wake up the next morning feeling, well, less than perfect? Here are 10 ways to ease the pain.

Water, water and then some more water: When you drink alcohol, you become severely dehydrated — hence the ‘cotton mouth’ feeling. Drink water until you feel like you can’t drink it anymore. Make sure you drink in small sips though; large gulps can cause your stomach to feel even more upset. When you feel like your thirst is quenched, just wait. You’ll need more water in a few minutes.

Have some fun in bed: Sex helps to get your blood flowing, hence making you feel quite a bit better.

Sleep it off: Only time will heal the pain. You probably didn’t get much sleep the night before, or even if you did, it wasn’t a very deep sleep. Stay in bed and sleep it off.

Get sporty: Sports drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade can help because they contain electrolytes, which we lack after a night of heavy drinking.

Get your caffeine fix: Coke will give you a combination sugar and caffeine hit that may be enough to get you out of bed and moving. Coffee is the same, although it can be hard on your stomach the morning after. Try something natural, like ginseng. It’s just as effective, but not as harsh.

Fruity foods: Foods with natural sugars in them such as fruit and sorbet are great because they will give you energy, and they are refreshing (especially for that dry mouth feeling). Bananas provide potassium, which gets depleted when you drink alcohol. They are also a natural antacid, which will help with the nausea.

Just like mom said: Ginger ale really does help your stomach; just make sure it’s flat. Another option is to grind some fresh ginger into a hot cup of water, or tea.

Greasy spoon: People suffering from a hangover often crave greasy foods. With this it’s best to proceed with caution — sometimes you can end up feeling a lot worse than you did before you ate it.

If all else fails…: Simply try lying in a room with a damp cloth on your head; it will help that ‘pounding head’ feeling and you may just fall asleep while laying there.

Know your limits: The best way to prevent a hangover is to simply know when enough is enough — and avoid that last drink!

Photo © Carmen Martínez Banús

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