As people have stayed up throughout the night to ring in the New Year, others are waking up to a ringing between their ears. After a night of partying with alcohol people, will be waking up to the signs of acute alcohol withdrawal which is more commonly referred to as a hangover.
Here are the effects alcohol has on the body, especially the next day and ways to combat them.
The symptoms of a hangover include dehydration, due to alcohol’s effect of increasing urine production, which leads to headaches, dry mouth and feeling tired. When the body is dehydrated, the body tries to compensate for the loss of that fluid by increasing the heart rate and by constricting blood vessels, which leads to increasing blood pressure.
People also feel nausea, because of alcohol’s effect on the stomach lining — leading to diarrhea, which worsens dehydration.
The liver breaks down alcohol resulting in damaged liver cells, temporarily decreasing liver function. If the byproducts from the alcohol are not removed from the body, they can then affect the brain and other organs, causing the symptoms above.
Alcohol affects motor coordination that leads to loss of balance, confusion, decreased concentration, and stumbling.
The real culprits
Alcohol causes hangovers several ways, but most commonly due to the byproducts produced by the liver when it breaks down alcohol and molecules called congeners.
Congeners are byproducts produced through fermentation of alcohol. These congeners give alcohol its specific tastes and aromas. A study done in 2009 also showed that these congeners actually amplify the hangover symptoms of alcohol.
What’s your hangover remedy?
Over the years people have come up with some interesting and creative home remedies to cure themselves of their hangovers.
“Drink more alcohol!”
“Hair of the dog.”
“Tomato juice and beer”
“Stay away from cheap liquor. Only use top shelf and drink lots of water.”
“You can use sports drinks, like Gatorade or Powerade, to rehydrate.”
… a few more complex ones
“I’ve heard Vitamin B12, aspirin, burnt toast, and French fries.”
“Pedialyte is a good remedy, I know it’s for kids but its good getting you rehydrated,”
“Milk thistle, ginger and asparagus.”
“Hot toddies, made up of lemon, honey and hot water.”
…and others, well, more natural
“A few of my friends swear by marijuana. It helps them get their appetite back and reduces the nausea or so they claim.”
…coconut water, a popular fave
Others have gone towards natural solutions using various combinations of coconut water:
“Coconut water, a friend of mine swears by it”
“Coconut water and a complex B vitamin.”
“Coconut water or grape juice with a pinch of salt and water”
“Kombucha, coconut water, coffee, bread and movies”
“Bread, not that I have tried it.”
…what about caffeine?
Most people have traditionally used caffeine to solve the problem of hangovers, which in some respects sounds intuitive. Alcohol slows you down and caffeine speeds you up. Caffeine is also able to constrict blood vessels and could reduce the severity of headaches.
A recent study has shown that caffeine alone does not cure hangovers but in fact makes them worse and that Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages have shown no benefit in treating or preventing hangovers.
Caffeine has diuretic properties it causes you to become even more dehydrated than by just drinking alcohol alone.
Good ‘ole water
Despite all of these homemade remedies, the best remedy for a hangover is to avoid having one all together. Staying well hydrated with water will help flush out your system and dilute out some of the effect of alcohol.
Consider drinking a glass of water for each cup of alcoholic beverage, and ibuprofen or aspirin.
One partygoer added: “Once I’m done a multivitamin, banana and a tall glass of orange juice before going to sleep. Works 100 perfect.”