The Truth About Hangovers

shutterstock_137241881It’s the 4th of July and it is a big night for parties for many people.  People often drink on holidays so I thought it was important to discuss hangovers.

A hangover is the unpleasant set of symptoms that come with drinking too much alcohol too quickly.  The particular set of symptoms experienced and their intensity may vary from person to person and depend on the occasion.  The characteristics may also depend on the type of alcohol consumed and the amount that a person drinks.  Typically, a hangover begins within several hours after the individual stops drinking.  Many people are probably familiar with these, but here is a list of some of the symptoms that may be present with hangover:

1)   Headache

2)   Dizziness

3)   Nausea & Vomiting

4)   Fatigue

5)   Disrupted sleep – it may be easy to fall asleep but as the alcohol wears off, people often wake up frequently and complain of feeling tired the next day.

6)   Increased thirst

7)   Sensitivity to light and sound

8)   Muscle aches

9)   Rapid heart rate

10)  Tremor

11)  Sweating

Dehydration is common because alcohol causes the body to increase urination.  Increased sweating, vomiting and diarrhea are also common during a hangover and that can lead to dehydration and increase and the symptoms of hangover.

Here are several tips to prevent a hangover:

1)   Have something to eat before you drink alcohol – fat slows your body’s absorption of alcohol – eat steak, sausage, fried foods or pizza before going to the party

2)   Drink slowly

3)   Drink in moderation – The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommend that women have no more than 1 drink per day and men no more than 2 drinks per day.  Definition of one drink:  12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1 ½ ounces of 80 proof liquor

4)   Drink a glass of water between alcoholic drinks

5)   Avoid alcohol completely if you want to be sure to prevent a hangover

Home treatment tips for hangover:

1)   Dehydration is common with a hangover, so replace fluids by drinking  sports drinks such as Gatorade.  I suggest making a mixture of ½ sports drink and ½ water.

2)   Eat a meal as soon as you are able to.

3)   Rest.  Most hangovers are gone within 24 hours.

4)   Remember that even if you feel well the morning after drinking alcohol, the lasting effects of alcohol will reduce your ability to perform at your best.

5)   Ibuprofen or aspirin may be helpful for headache or muscle aches

A Few Facts About Hangover Myths:

1)   A wake-up cocktail will only delay, not prevent your hangover.

2)   The order in which you drink alcoholic drinks does not determine the magnitude of the hangover, it’s the amount of alcohol that you drink

3)   Diet drinks will not help with hangovers

Hangover pills don’t do much to help with hangovers and may actually make your symptoms worse

This document is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual patient.  If you have questions please contact your medical provider.


I hope that you have found this information useful.  Wishing you the best of health,

Scott Rennie, DO



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