Drinking alcohol can cause fatigue, nausea, brain fog, and low mood the next day. People who are experiencing a hangover feel these symptoms partly because of the after-effects of drinking alcohol, including:
Home hangover cures aim to treat these symptoms. There is no specific food, drink, or magic pill to cure a hangover, though certain remedies can ease the symptoms in some people.
In this article, we look at the effectiveness of some common methods people use to try to cure hangovers.
While there is little direct research into how effective over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are for people with a hangover, certain medicines may help tackle the symptoms, as discussed below.
Aspirin and other anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, are effective at relieving aches and pains.
These drugs can reduce the inflammation in the body that alcohol causes to relieve headaches and muscle aches.
People should use anti-inflammatories with caution when hungover, as the medication can further irritate the stomach lining. Chronic use of these drugs can lead to stomach ulcers. Some doctors caution against taking ibuprofen on an empty stomach for this reason.
Antacids work by neutralizing the stomach acid to relieve an upset stomach. Taking antacids can reduce nausea, heartburn, and indigestion that drinking causes. This is a good option for people who tend to feel sick when hungover.
Avoid medication that contains acetaminophen during a hangover.
The liver is the organ that breaks down acetaminophen, as it does alcohol. The body is more susceptible to the toxic effects of acetaminophen when a person drinks alcohol, and this can contribute to liver damage in severe cases.
People may prefer to use anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, for pain relief instead.
Rehydrating the body by drinking water may help to improve the symptoms of a hangover.
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it increases the amount of urine a person passes. The resulting loss in fluid can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. These factors contribute to a hangover.
Staying hydrated while drinking alcohol could help to prevent or reduce a hangover. People can try drinking a glass of water between alcoholic drinks and just before bed.
Many people also use sports drinks that contain electrolytes or rehydration powders to restore the balance of electrolytes in their bodies. There is no current research about whether or not this is an effective cure for a hangover.
The alcohol a person drinks causes oxidative stress, leading the body to produce free radicals. Antioxidants may help with this.
Research has linked oxidative stress to many health conditions, including heart disease and cancers. Antioxidants are compounds that help mop up these free radicals.
People may benefit from eating foods high in antioxidants to reduce the negative effects of drinking alcohol.
Good dietary sources of antioxidants include:
Coffee and other caffeinated drinks act as stimulants, which may improve the feelings of fatigue that come with a hangover.
Coffee, black tea, and green tea contain some antioxidants that may reduce the adverse effects of alcohol consumption.
However, drinks that contain caffeine are diuretics, which may worsen the effects of dehydration in the body. Caffeine does not alter a person’s blood alcohol content, so it does not reduce the health risks relating to drinking alcohol.
While there are no scientifically proven hangover cures, people can effectively prevent a hangover from happening in the first place.
Several factors may help to reduce the severity of a hangover, such as:
The amount of alcohol that causes a hangover will vary from person to person. As a result, determining how much alcohol causes a hangover will involve some trial and error. It can help to be aware of alcohol guidelines set by the government.
There is currently no such thing as a cure for hangovers. Certain home remedies can help people manage some hangover symptoms, including taking anti-inflammatories or antacids, eating a nutritious breakfast, rehydrating, and eating foods that are rich in antioxidants.
However, there is little reliable research in this area. Until more systematic research is available, it is not possible to provide firm guidelines on dealing with hangovers.
Abstaining or drinking alcohol in moderation is the best way to avoid a hangover. People can reduce the severity of or prevent a hangover by getting enough sleep, staying hydrated through the night, and avoiding drinks with congeners.
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