Tips to avoid a Festive hangover

Stock image.
Stock image.

THE best way to avoid a hangover is not to drink at all but that is also a sure-fire way to miss a lot of fun.

According to National Drug Research Institute Research Fellow Tina Lam, a fifth of Australians (22 per cent) did not drink a drop in the past year.

For those who do drink, there is a seasonal pattern of increased consumption in the December holiday period, followed by an uptick in resolutions in January to cut down on drinking.

The medical term for an alcohol-induced hangover is veisalgia (from the Norwegian kveis, or “uneasiness following debauchery,” and the Greek algia, or “pain”).

With New Years Eve around the corner, we spoke with Dr Lam for the best next-day solutions.

Water

We all know alcohol dehydrates us, so topping back up with H2O must help, right?

A hangover is something most of us have experienced after a night of drinking, and it is our bodies trying to eliminate the alcohol from our bodies. We might experience symptoms such as headache, weakness or sensitivity to light or sound.

What is happening, while we feel poorly, is that our organs such as our livers are busy breaking the alcohol down. Now in addition to this detoxification, we might also be experiencing other processes such as dehydration and sleep deprivation.

Contrary to popular belief, hangovers are not due to dehydration. Instead, dehydration is something that often occurs at the same time as hangover and makes it feel worse.

So drinking water might not help with the hangover specifically, but will probably make you feel better overall.

Short answer, yes, rehydration is an excellent starting point.

Coffee

A caffeine hit may bring temporary relief but is a shot of espresso enough to kill off a hangover?

Both alcohol and caffeine are diuretics, which means they both cause you to lose water and can easily lead to dehydration.

You are probably already dehydrated when you have a hangover, so drink plenty of water in addition to your coffee.

If you were having energy drinks the previous night, this makes the dehydration worse in the morning.

Sleep-deprivation is similar to dehydration in that it’s not a part of the detoxification process, but still contributes to you feeling worse for wear. Have a nap.

More alcohol

Heard on Buck’s weekends everywhere, “hair of the dog” is a popular method. Any truth to the wives tale?

“Hair of the dog” is a folk remedy that refers to drinking some alcohol the morning after a big night to reduce the effect of a hangover.

It is quite an unusual expression isn’t it?

It is fabled that this phrase originally referred to a method of treating a bite that you got from a dog, with rabies, by placing hair from the dog in the bite wound. Curing ‘like with like’.

So, similar to using a literal hair of the dog, it’s not a great treatment at all.

By having another drink after a night out, you are not preventing, but just delaying the inevitable hangover.

Greasy breakfast

Bacon, eggs, sausages… with a side of bacon and sausages. Do oily, fatty foods really help or would we be better served opting for something different?

We do tend to seek out comfort foods when we are feeling a bit fragile. You are better off choosing something vaguely nutritious for breakfast as the additional grease isn’t doing your body any favours at this point.

Having food before you drink on the other hand, especially fatty foods, which take the longest to digest, will help to reduce stomach irritation.

Exercise

Popular among Sunday footballers all over the country, working up a sweat can seem to do the trick but is it dangerous?

High intensity workouts might make your dehydration worse, and your impaired concentration and co-ordination might result in an ‘ouchie’. In addition, when you are dehydrated your body is less able to control temperature so you might overheat more easily.

If you are desperate to get to the gym, choose gentler exercises and rehydrate with a sports drink.

Medication

Panadol, Ibuprofen, Aspirin – which is best and should you be taking any at all?

There are pros and cons to all drugs, including these common painkillers.

Some drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin can interact with alcohol to irritate your stomach, especially if you do not have enough food in your stomach. You are probably got a sensitive stomach already, so make sure to take these with food.

Paracetamol will be gentler on your stomach, but be sure to stick within the recommended dose to avoid overtaxing your liver, which is still busy detoxifying.