Morning after the night before…

Splitting headache, photophobia  and dizziness - add to this an upset stomach with nausea and possibly vomiting… sound familiar?

Alcohol removes fluid from the body. This is known as a diuretic effect. Excessive alcohol consumption therefore leads to dehydration and this is the main cause of hangover symptoms.
There is no miracle cure - not a bucket of coffee, Worcester sauce and raw eggs or hair of the dog. The only way to avoid a hangover is not to overindulge in the first place.

Be drink aware

It’s important to know your own personal limit and have some idea of the alcohol content of whatever you are drinking. Some alcoholic drinks are very potent, whilst being easy to drink e.g. alcopop-type drinks. You can very rapidly rack up a lot of units.

Furthermore, don’t drink on an empty stomach. Always have a meal before you go out and try to include some complex carbs, like wholemeal pasta and some fats. That way you will absorb the alcohol at a slower rate.
It’s essential to be well hydrated before you start. Aim to have lots of water or fruit tea in the few hours up to going out. Alternating alcoholic with non-alcoholic, non-fizzy drinks or water is also recommended, as fizz speeds up the rate of absorption. Darker coloured liquors, like brandy, are less well-tolerated then lighter coloured or clear spirits, such as vodka. Good quality wine, meanwhile, will have less additives than cheaper plonk.
When you do get home, try to drink a pint of water before going to sleep and have a glass at the bedside for if you wake in the night.

Hangover tips

If you don’t follow these tips, and wake up feeling terrible, what should you do?

Top of the list is rehydration. Plain water is best, though some people gain benefit from isotonic or sport-type drinks. Be careful, however, as these can provide a sugar rush, followed by a sugar low, which can leave you feeling trembly and generally unwell.
Take some paracetamol for the headache. Aspirin and ibuprofen-containing medicines can sometimes irritate your stomach (which may already be upset!) in which case an antacid may also be needed.
Eat a little bit of what you fancy. Eggs are a good source of cysteine, which mops up the toxins produced when too much alcohol is consumed. Try them with some wholemeal toast for a steady blood sugar boost.

Don't drive too soon...

Bear in mind that, on average, 1 unit of alcohol takes 1 hour to be metabolised. You may need to consider how many units you have had before driving the following day. Furthermore, allow at least 48 hours after a heavy session before indulging again.

Finally, if you have been vomiting and are on the contraceptive pill, it may not be effective. So, consider whether you need the morning after pill as well as a cure for your hangover the next day!

Remember – abstinence is the best remedy!    

Dr Hilary


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