Hangovers and How to Deal With Them,

Ever wake up from a great night of partying and say, “This is the last time that I’m ever drinking,”? Your head throbs, you’re nauseous, you’re tired, your body aches and you have diarrhea. These are all symptoms of what could be considered every party goers version of kryptonite, the hangover. But, what if there was a cure to this dreaded party foul?

Some believe that hangovers are caused by the methanol and acetone toxins which are found in some alcohols. Others believe its simply the dehydration, being that alcohol is a diuretic (a drug that increases urination and flushes fluids from the body). However, Mack Mitchell, M.D., vice president of the Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation in Baltimore, and assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, believes that the chief cause of hangover is acute withdrawal from alcohol. “The cells in your brain physically change in response to the alcohol’s presence; when the alcohol is gone, you go through withdrawal until those cells get used to doing without the alcohol.” Couple that with the effects alcohol has on the blood vessels in your head (they can swell significantly), and you end up wishing that you had never woke up.

Which alcohol is worse?

From worst to best: bourbon, whiskey, brandy, rum, red wine, white wine, gin and vodka. The British Medical Journal did tests that showed drinking bourbon whiskey is twice as likely to cause a hangover than the same amount of vodka.

Techniques to avoid a hangover:

The best and safest way to prevent hangovers is to limit yourself to 1-2 drinks.

Drink slowly. The slower you drink, the less alcohol reaches the brain (even if you end up consuming more). The reason is simple math: Your body burns alcohol at a fixed rate—about an ounce an hour. Give it more time to burn that alcohol, and less reaches your blood and brain.

Drink on a full stomach. “This is probably the single best thing you can do besides drinking less to reduce the severity of a hangover,” Dr. Mitchell says. “Food slows the absorption of alcohol, and the slower you absorb it, the less alcohol actually reaches the brain.” The kind of food you eat doesn’t matter much. Eating well before you go out, during alcohol consumption, and sometimes after is important. Breads and pasta particularly slow absorption of alcohol into the blood stream. So do milk and other dairy products.

Take some extra vitamin C before going to bed. Some even suggest taking extra vitamin C for a few days before imbibing a lot.

Drink the right drinks. What you drink can play a major role in what your head feels like the next morning, according to Kenneth Blum, Ph.D. The chief villains are congeners. “Congeners are higher order alcohols. (ethanol is the one we commonly call ‘alcohol’ but there are many others.) They are found in essentially all alcoholic beverages,” Dr. Blum says. “How they work isn’t known, but they’re closely related to the amount of pain you experience after drinking.”

The least perilous concoction is vodka. The most perilous is bourbon. Cognac and other brandies as well as single malt scotches are close behind. These are followed by blended scotch and other whiskeys and champagnes of all kinds (here it’s the bubbles that are the problem). Red wine can be a problem, but for a different reason. It contains tyramine, a histamine-like substance that can produce a killer headache. Gin and white wine are almost as benign as vodka, but in sufficient quantity, any form of alcohol can do you in. Avoid sweet tropical mixed drinks such as zombies and pina coladas, Also, avoid eating sugary foods such as cookies, cakes and chocolate. You tend to drink more than you realize, because the sugar makes it difficult to sense how much alcohol you are consuming.

Avoid the bubbly. And that doesn’t mean just champagne. Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Blum agree. Anything with bubbles in it (rum and Coke is just as bad as champagne) is a special hazard. The bubbles put the alcohol into your bloodstream much more quickly. Your liver can’t keep up; the alcohol overflow pours into your bloodstream.

Be size sensitive. With few exceptions, there’s no way a 110-pounder can go one-on-one with a 250-pound drinker and wake up the winner. So scale down your drinks. To come out even, the 110-pounder can handle about half the alcohol of the 250-pounder.

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Take Alka-Seltzer at bedtime. “There’s no hard scientific data on this, but my own clinical experience and that of a lot of others says that water and Alka-Seltzer before going to bed can make your hangover much less of a problem,” says John Brick, Ph.D. Others claim that two aspirin tablets (which is really Alka-Seltzer without the fizz) can also help. However, non-prescription pain relievers can be tough on the stomach, especially when there is alcohol in the system. Plain water is always a good idea for rehydration. Some recommend flat ginger ale.

Hangover remedies:

Bifidus powder: Put a teaspoon of bifidus powder in a glass of water and drink before going to bed. Bifidus is the “friendly”” bacteria that detoxifies acetaldehyde

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