Hangovers

1 What are Hangovers?

A hangover is a set of uncomfortable signs and symptoms that an individual may experience after drinking too much alcohol. Hangovers are widely associated with poor performance and conflict in work place accompanied by an always present, awful feeling.

As a general rule, one will always experience a hangover if they drank a lot of alcohol the previous day. However, there is not any available means that can inform a person on how much to drink in order to avoid a hangover.

However unpleasant, most hang overs go away on their own, though they can last for periods of up to 24 hours. If you choose to drink alcohol, doing it responsibly will ensure that future hangovers will be avoided.

2 Symptoms

Symptoms of hangovers typically commence when blood alcohol drops significantly approaching zero. They are always in full effect every morning after a previous night of heavy drinking.

Depending on what or the quantity of what one drank, the following may be experienced: 

One can also experience poor or decreased sleep and an increased sensitivity to light and sound. Dizziness, shakiness and decreased ability to concentrate may also occur.

Mood disturbances are also a very common symptom and may be in the form of depression and anxiety.

3 Causes

Primarily, hangovers are caused by excessive intake of alcohol. The amount of alcohol can vary from individual to individual as single alcoholic drink is enough to trigger a hangover for some people, while others may drink in large amounts and escape a hangover entirely.

Various factors may contribute to a hangover. These can be listed as follows:

Alcohol causes the body to produce more urine. Excess urination further leads to a state of dehydration which is often indicated by thirst, dizziness and lightheadedness. Alcohol induces an inflammatory response from the immune system. The immune system may trigger certain agents. These agents produce physical symptoms, such as an inability to concentrate, memory problems, decreased appetite and loss of interest in usual activities.

Alcohol also irritates the lining of the stomach. It further causes a spike in the production of stomach acid and delays stomach emptying. Any of these factors can cause abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Alcohol reduces blood sugar levels as well. One might experience fatigue, weakness, shakiness, mood disturbances and even seizures if their blood sugars level decreases significantly.

Alcohol causes the expansion of blood vessels, which can possibly lead to headaches.

Alcohol can make one crave sleep, but quality of sleep is greatly diminished. This may leave you weak, and unable to easily process information and exhausted.

Alcoholic beverages contain ingredients called congeners, which give many types of alcoholic beverages their flavour and can contribute to hangovers. Congeners are found in larger amounts in dark liquors, such as brandy and whiskey, rather than in clear liquors, such as vodka and gin.

4 Treatment

The best cure for a hangover is time and there is no need for specific treatment. Gradually, the effects of a hangover diminish with an increase in time.

However, there are several things one can do to help themselves feel better.

These activities include the following: 

  • Sipping water or juice during the process of alcohol drinking will reduce it's effects and prevent dehydration. It can be quite tempting to treat a hangover with more intake of alcohol. It is advisable to try to resist this temptation as it only intensifies the horrible feeling.
  • Having a snack while drinking also helps. Bland foods like toast and crackers are able to boost blood sugar and settle the stomach.It is also a plus to take Bouillon soup to help replace the salt and potassium.
  • Taking pain relievers may ease headaches but drugs like aspirin can irritate the stomach.  Acetaminophen can cause severe liver damage even in small doses which was previously assumed to be safe.
  • As time is the key to curing a hangover, one can go back to sleep when they are awake.

5 Prevention

Several over-the–counter pills claim to lead the fight against hangovers, but the best and only guaranteed way to prevent a hangover is to avoid alcohol in the first place. If one chooses to drink, they should do so moderately. The less alcohol you drink, the less likely you are to have a hangover.

It is also very helpful to:

  • Eat first. Alcohol is absorbed more quickly if the stomach is empty. It may help to eat something before drinking alcohol.  
  • Pacing oneself. It is very important to limit to just one drink or less each hour. Beverages with fewer congeners — such as light-colored beers and wine — are slightly less likely to cause hangovers than are beverages with more congeners — such as brandy, whiskey, dark beers and red wine. Therefore, choosing the right beverage plays a huge role in trying to prevent a hangover.

Sipping water between drinks helps one stay hydrated. It'll also help one to drink less alcohol.

Another way of preventing a hangover is by knowing one’s limits. It is very important to make a decision ahead of time on how many drinks will be taken have — and stick to it.

Some people take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), to prevent hangover symptoms.  It is vital to ask a doctor if this is safe and what dosage is best. These medications may interact with other medications, and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may cause liver damage if too much alcohol is taken in the body.

6 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Consult with your physician before starting any alternative remedies for hangover.

Up to this instant no natural hangover remedies have been discovered.

It is never guaranteed that natural remedies are safe. Doctors will help their patients understand any possible risks and benefits before trying any form of treatment.

7 Risks and Complications

There are several risks associated with hangover.

A hangover can be experienced by basically any individual who participates in alcohol drinking. It is also well understood that certain members of the public are more susceptible to a hangover than others are. Some individuals flush, sweat or become ill after drinking, even a small amount depending on  the genetic variation of the metabolism of alcohol in the body.

Factors that increase the likelihood of a hangover include the following: 

  • People who drink on an empty stomach have a greater chance of experiencing  a hangover. Without food in one's stomach, alcohol absorption is increased significantly.
  • Secondly, by using other drugs such as nicotine along with alcohol.
  • Smoking is a dangerous activity on its own, but when paired with drinking appears to increase the likelihood of next-day misery.
  • Another factor is not getting enough sleep after drinking. Some researchers have deduced that some symptoms of a hangover are brought by insufficient sleep. People who have poor quality and a short sleep cycle that follows a night of heavy alcohol drinking are more likely to experience a hangover.
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