Sober Second Thoughts
How to beat the hangover from hell
You just had a massive night out: whether you were at the local pub, dancing away at the club or catching up with friends at a house party, the drinks were flowing and good times were had.
But unfortunately, most of us have woken up from a big night out staring at the ceiling of a spinning room. The pounding headache is setting in, you’re sweating and the alcohol shakes are quickly approaching. As well as the physical symptoms, it’s likely you’ve experienced elevated levels of anxiety, regret, shame and more times than not, embarrassment.
MedicalNet.com describes the medical name “Veisalgia”, or more commonly known as a hangover, being the disagreeable physical effects following excessive consumption of alcohol.
SAIT student Mel Edmondson says she is no stranger to the dreaded hangover and says the worst level is “zombie mode”.
“When I hit full zombie, my emotions are a roller coaster of funny and regret. I get muscle cramps and aches. My legs always feel like they’re going to fall off and I stumble over my words because of all the brain cells I killed while consuming copious amounts of alcohol,” says Edmondson.
So when it comes down to it, is the horrible hangover preventable? Sure, you could avoid alcohol altogether, but as the great Benjamin Franklin said, “There can’t be good living where there is not good drinking.”
And despite the consequences, people’s attraction to alcohol has not stopped. According to Health Canada, there was a significant increase in alcohol consumption in Alberta up to 80.0% from 73.8% in 2010.
Unfortunately, there has yet to be a scientific cure for a hangover. In the meantime here are steps you can take to reduce the severity of it.
Before heading out
Make sure you chow down on food before drinking. A full stomach slows down alcohol absorption. Nutritionist Earle Connor says, “eat a ton of carbs before drinking. Try eating whole-wheat pasta, a sandwich on whole grain bread or stir-fry on brown rice.”
Go green! Some studies suggest that the amino acids and minerals found in asparagus can help prevent hangovers.
At the bar
This tip is always easier said than done. Go one-for-one with alcohol and water consumption. Alcohol can lead to dehydration, so make sure to drink water throughout the night. Try and match each alcoholic beverage with one glass of water to avoid pain the next day.
Choose lighter drinks. Kevin Hoogstraten, a bartender at The Keg says choosing alcoholic beverages that are darker, red wine or whiskey contain things called congeners that are produced during the fermentation stage.
“It sucks on the wallet, but more expensive, lighter alcohols have less congeners, which means no headaches,” says Hoogstraten.
So stick to the light, more expensive alcohols for fewer negative hangover side effects.
Avoid carbonation. Some research suggests that bubbles may cause alcohol to absorb more quickly and makes the surface of the stomach expand.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Pound back the water like your life depends on it. This will help your body rehydrate and replenish electrolytes while you sleep, so you can hopefully wake up headache-free. Try drinking at least 8-oz of water, a sports drink or coconut water.
Skip the painkillers. This is the biggest mistake most people make after a big night of drinking. When you swallow a painkiller before bed it can irritate the stomach and some researcher shows that taking acetaminophen after drinking can lead to liver damage.
Rise and shine
Pop a pill. The best way to replenish what’s been lost from a night of drinking is to take a multi-vitamin.
Go for a healthier alternative. Choose fruity smoothies and fruit drinks to kick-start the recovery process. The fructose in sweet fruity drinks will restore your blood sugar level and increase your energy level. If you choose a smoothie add bananas, kiwi and spinach and blend those bad boys all together with some coconut water. These ingredients are loaded with potassium, which is an important electrolyte that is depleted after a night of drinking.
Amanda Boulter, a third-year student at Mount Royal University, says that after a big night out she takes a shot of pickle juice the morning after.
“I don’t know why but the combo of salt, vinegar and water helps hydrate me.”
Research found that pickle juice helps replenish electrolytes and sodium levels.
Guzzle down the V8. The tomatoes in V8 contain lycopene, an antioxidant that reduces inflammation in the body. It also contains Vitamin C, which helps give your poor liver a boost and build up resistance. When ordering this drink at restaurants, try sticking to an alcohol free Caesar. But if you’re anything like Jennifer Hatlen, a nursing student at the University of Calgary, you’ll add the extra alcohol to prolong the hangover but make the effects less severe.
“I always make sure to order a Caesar at morning brunch after overdoing it drinking the night before,” says Hatlen. She expresses that even though drinking alcohol prolongs her hangover, it is the only thing that cures her pounding headache the morning after.
As far as hangovers are concerned, they’re not going away with a special pill or a quick fix anytime soon, but some of these tips may help reduce the horrific side effects of a little too much drinking. And if none of these work, take a personal day … you’re in it for the long haul.