Hangovers are the unfortunate downside of alcohol. Some people claim to be “immune” to these unpleasant symptoms, but a majority of us are susceptible to alcohol’s lingering effects. Feeling this way takes a huge toll on our mood and our productivity. So how can we achieve quick hangover relief? Well, first, let’s dive into what actually causes those Sunday scaries.
What Causes a Hangover
The best way to define a hangover is a group of unpleasant signs and symptoms that can develop after drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take a binge-worthy amount of alcohol for some people to develop symptoms, and there’s no real way you can tell how much you can safely drink and still steer clear of morning misery.
There are two main reasons why we get hangovers: alcohol-related dehydration and alcohol-induced disruption of pivotal bodily functions like sleep.
Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes our body to remove fluids from our blood at a much quicker rate than other liquids. This happens through frequent urination. Frequent urination can cause the body to dehydrate quicker and lose many electrolytes in the process; hence, we wake up at sunrise and dash to the kitchen sink for a sip of water. This is why many people fear “breaking the seal” because once you start, it is hard to stop.
Additionally, alcohol takes a toll on one of our most prioritized bodily functions: sleep. Alcohol-induced sleep is far shorter and much lower in quality than regular sleep. Irregular sleep can disrupt REM cycles, which are vital to recharging the body. This can cause heavy fatigue that can last up to 48 hours after drinking. Drinking may also produce “jet-lag” type symptoms during a hangover by disrupting our body’s daily temperature rhythm, nighttime secretion of growth hormones, and the release of cortisol.
Preventative vs. Remedial Action
Now that we understand what causes a hangover, how can we provide quick hangover relief?
First up, preventative measures. These are steps we can take hours before we alcohol even touches our lips to help decrease the severity and likelihood of a terrible hangover.
1. Drink Up!
As we know, alcohol causes our body to release fluids much quicker than other liquids. To combat this, make sure to drink plenty of water and/or sports drinks before going out. This will provide our body with excess fluids that will eventually be lost throughout the night.
2. Don’t drink on an empty stomach
Make sure to feed your appetite before going out for a night on the town. According to the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research, “It is always wise to eat before or while drinking. In short, lining the stomach prevents alcohol from rushing into your bloodstream and gives your liver more time to break down the alcohol that is therefore released more slowly.” Also, remember to nibble on some food while drinking as well.
3. Avoid Drinks High in Congeners
The main ingredient in alcoholic beverages is ethanol, but there are many other additives as well. When sugar-fermenting yeasts produce ethanol, congeners are formed. Congeners are toxic chemicals that include methanol, isopentanol, and acetone. Two studies conducted by the National Institute of Health suggest that congeners like methanol seem to increase frequency and severity of hangovers.
Okay, suppose we didn’t heed the advice above. Let’s take a look at what we can do now to provide quick relief for some of these nasty hangover symptoms.
1. Hair of the dog
That’s right. Kick back and whip up a mimosa (or two) and drink those symptoms away. Hangovers are a form of alcohol withdrawal, so consuming alcohol while hungover acts as a sedative symptom, says Dr. Swift. But tread wisely. Dr. Swift advises against using alcohol as a remedy. “It doesn’t allow you to recover; it just perpetuates the cycle.”
Drinking has the capability to lower our blood sugar, so the fatigue and sick symptoms we feel while hungover may be caused by the brain working too hard without enough fuel to run. So throw some toast in the toaster and pour yourself a glass of juice to help bring your blood sugar back to normal.
3. Consider IV treatments
Sometimes the above methods hardly make a difference at all. If this is the case, you should consider hangover relief IV treatments. These treatments are jam-packed with important nutrients and even prescription meds like B complex and toradol that help rehydrate our body, revitalize cells, and rapidly combat pain. On-demand IV treatment companies bring the lounge to your living room, making wellness accessible for all!
The don’ts of hangover relief
As always, be cautious of certain relief methods that have the potential to do more harm than good. It is okay to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, but make sure not to pop ’em in advance as mixing alcohol and ibuprofen irritates the stomach’s lining and intestines.
Other pain relief medications that contain acetaminophen like Tylenol are a strict no-go for hangover relief. Your risk of severe liver damage from alcohol and acetaminophen increases as the amounts of each substance in your body increase. So please, do not take Tylenol before, during, or after you drink to minimize health risks.