Hangovers and how to manage them

Hangovers and how to manage them

Hangovers and how to manage them 1280 847 Brandwood Clinic

Hangovers, how to avoid them

Hey, it’s Christmas. We know it’s pointless to suggest that you don’t over-indulge, it just happens. One drink becomes five drinks, one mince pie becomes a box, one Quality Street becomes……you know the rest.

We’ve done a little seasonal research for you to help combat the symptoms of ‘indulgence’. They may help, if you keep them in mind of course.

Moderation

No surprises here, drink sensibly and you’ll be better off. It’s the definition of moderation – and what’s sensible – that we all struggle with. For the record, more alcohol = greater likelihood of a hangover. You knew that, right?

Studies have found that you must reach a peak blood alcohol concentration of 0.11–0.12% to develop a hangover. That’s the science, it may not help much. Plenty of factors, including gender, body weight, when you last ate, type of alcohol and duration of your ‘session’ can impact upon the percentage of alcohol in your blood.

Some individuals can induce a hangover after as few as 2–3 drinks, while others may require much more. Meanwhile, approximately 23% of all drinkers are resistant to hangovers altogether. In polite company we won’t share our name for those fortunate folks.

For the record, the quantity of alcohol you consume will directly influence the incidence and severity of your hangover.

Since you’re unlikely to limit your intake in this period, the following may be of use.

Congeners

You’ve heard the stories – clear or light coloured drinks are recommended if you’re hoping to avoid a hangover. The reason for this is congeners, toxic chemical by-products that are formed in small amounts during the process of producing alcohol.

Different alcoholic beverages contain varying amounts of congeners. Whiskey, tequila and brandy/cognac are all high in congeners, bourbon whiskey particularly so (thanks Jack).

Vodka, gin and rum are low in congeners, with vodka containing almost no congeners at all. Consequently, picking drinks that are low in congeners may help with the hangover. This is not a justification for drinking pint glasses of Smirnoff, Bacardi & Gordon’s cocktails of course.

Hydration

Drinking more means you’ll need to drink more. Water, obviously.

Alcohol causes dehydration in several ways. Firstly, it’s a diuretic. Simply put that means you’ll be visiting the toilet more frequently. Secondly, as alcohol frequently induces vomiting this naturally depletes electrolytes and fluids.

Dehydration causes some of the symptoms aligned with hangovers: headaches, fatigue, dizziness and thirst.

If you can alternate your alcoholic drinks with an intake of water you’ll be doing yourself a massive favour. This is unlikely, so ensure you drink a pint of water post-booze and pre-bed and as much water as you need on the ‘day after’.

Pacing

The old suggestions are clearly effective, since we’d have stopped using them if they didn’t work. Pacing yourself has scientific backing since it takes your body around an hour to break down 1 unit of alcohol (basically a shot).

At Christmas, you’re likely to go over these limits, but it is worth thinking about how much you’re drinking and how to pace yourself.

If you leave a gap between your next drink you’ll give your body a chance to process the alcohol you’re drinking and lessen the hangover effect.

Sleep

The great cure-all. Sadly, alcohol disrupts sleeping patterns. As it disrupts those patterns, it means you need more of it in these instances.

Fatigue, headaches and irritability are all hangover symptoms that can be aggravated by a lack of sleep.

A good night’s sleep and allowing your body to recover may help alleviate symptoms and make your hangover more bearable. Like you needed an excuse to curl up on the sofa and hide under the blanket.

Breakfast

Make mine a full English. Those of us that can stomach the sight of food on the ‘morning after’ will be reassured to discover that it is a well-known hangover remedy, but why?

It is thought to do with low blood sugar levels. Whilst they may not necessarily the cause of a hangover, they’re often associated with it. Low blood sugar could also contribute to some hangover symptoms, such as nausea, fatigue and weakness.

Maintaining adequate blood sugar could mitigate some of the bodily changes that occur with alcohol consumption, such as the buildup of acid in the blood.

Excessive drinking can disrupt the balance of the chemicals in your blood and cause metabolic acidosis, an increase in acidity. It can also be associated with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and fatigue. As well as helping reduce certain hangover symptoms, eating a healthy breakfast can provide important vitamins and minerals, which may become depleted during your ‘happy hour’.

Supplements

There’s no question that if a miracle cure existed for over-indulgence then major pharmaceutical companies would have branded it, patented it and be selling it to you right now.

Regular claims are made in favour of various formulas and concoctions to line the stomach, pre and post-drinking. We cannot verify any of these since they seem to work in different ways for different people, we list them below for your own experimentation and would welcome some feedback.

  • Red ginseng and/or Eleuthero, also known as Siberian ginseng
  • Prickly pear
  • Ginger, combine it with brown sugar and tangerine extract apparently
  • Borage oil/Starflower oil
  • Artichoke extract
  • Fish oil
  • Vitamin B

Moderation is your best bet, failing that (and we all will, otherwise you wouldn’t have read this far) some of the above tips may help. Have a magical and fun time and try to stay hangover-free!

Should you need any other health advice or want to pop in for a New Year health screen to get your year off to the best start call us on 0121 296 9280.