As I write this with a slight hangover from my BFF’s holiday party last night (she works for a tech firm so you know it was lit), I wish I had taken some of this advice into consideration. But hopefully, you read our best hangover cures before your next big night out.
What Causes a Hangover?
Obviously, hangovers come from drinking too much, adding a few shots into the mix, or mixing liquor/beer/wine. Alcohol consumption leads to dehydration, low blood sugar, an irritated stomach lining, and more. This causes the physical symptoms: headache, dry mouth, hunger, stomach pain, nausea, shakiness, and more. Dark liquors contain higher amounts of congeners, flavoring agents known to increase the severity of a hangover, than clear liquors.
An Ounce of Prevention
Depending on how much you drink, you might not necessarily be able to prevent a hangover, but you can try, or at least help mitigate symptoms, with below suggestions.
- Drink plenty of water before, during, and after drinking. Water helps you stay hydrated to prevented symptoms and can keep you from getting too drunk.
- Eat before, during, and after drinking. Having food in your system slows alcohol absorption, so you won’t get too drunk. From personal experience, you may not be able to eat at all three times, so choosing two (before and after, for example), is helpful as well.
- Take a pain reliever, before and after drinking, or both, if you tend to get headaches. Do be careful—most over the counter pain relievers can cause unpleasant effects if you continuously mix them with alcohol. Ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin can cause stomach bleeding, and acetaminophen can affect kidneys. Taking these occasionally when drinking does not pose a threat.
- Take an antacid if you tend to get heartburn. A chewable acid reducer can be taken after drinking to prevent heartburn.
- Try activated charcoal. Found in pill form, activated charcoal helps to eliminate toxins (which is what alcohol is), from the body. It won’t absorb alcohol, but it may speed up alcohol elimination.
A Pound of Cure
OK, so you did all of the above (or some) and you are still hungover? Here are ways to help cure that hangover, fast. Many of the preventive steps can help alleviate symptoms as well, such as taking a pain reliever or acid reducer, but the key is a combination of rehydrating and raising your blood sugar. Drinking water or coconut water should really be your first step, as you want to rehydrate. Eating something will help as well. If it’s one of those really bad hangovers where you do not feel like eating, try some plain toast. You need it to help absorb the alcohol. As long as you are drinking plenty of water, feel free to drink some coffee to perk yourself up. While sleeping it off is tempting, you need to consume water and a little bit of food before going back to bed.
However, the best hangover cure, my absolute favorite, is as follows: Plenty of water and coconut water upon waking, a piece of dry toast with naproxen, and a quick shower. I follow this with coffee and pho (weekends) or a good breakfast sandwich (weekdays) and it sets me on a much better track for the day.
Though, there is always that sworn by hangover cure, hair-of-the-dog. Bottomless brunch anyone?