Hangover symptoms result from the consumption of alcohol and the secondary effects that are a direct result of alcohol moving through the bloodstream. Some of these effects include:
- Acetaldehyde, a byproduct of alcohol metabolism in the liver.
- Falling blood alcohol levels leading to increased alertness of symptoms.
- Lower blood sugar levels.
- Vascular dilation.
- Disruptions to hormones that lead to sleep deprivation.
What a hangover looks like in each person can be affected by several factors, including sex, age, ethnicity, physical health, family history of alcoholism, drug consumption, and a host of other known and unknown factors.
If you are trying to avoid hangover symptoms, then you need to pull back on your alcohol intake to the recommended amount each day. But good luck! The recommended maximum of just 1 standard drink per day for women, and 2 standard drinks for men, often isn’t anywhere near enough for most people looking to really enjoy themselves.
If you aren’t new to hangovers, you may already have rituals that help you to speed through the recovery process. For everyone else, take a look below at a few of our suggestions for ways to recover from hangover symptoms.
7 Things That May Help Your Hangover
1. Drink Water or Sports Drinks
Alcohol disrupts the release of vasopressin, a hormone that reduces the amount of urine made by the kidneys. Combine that with diarrhea, sweating, or vomiting, and you increase the likelihood of becoming dehydrated. Drinking water or sports drinks will help the body to replenish fluids, electrolytes, potassium, or other nutrients that may be lost when peeing frequently.
2. Eat Healthy Carbohydrates
Drinking can lead to lower blood sugar levels, causing fatigue, and headaches. While drinking, it is easier to forget about your needs, including eating. While anything will do, you should avoid anything that will further upset your gut. Alcohol irritates the stomach and digestive system, often contributing to diarrhea. Eating greasy or spicy foods is not recommended.
3. Avoid Dark Beers
Darker liquors are more likely to contain compounds not found in lighter liquors, including methanol, which can be toxic to the body. While not enough to necessarily cause immediate harm, the body still reacts, leading to a worsening of hangover symptoms.
4. Use Pain Relievers (Not Tylenol)
Some over-the-counter pain relievers may work to help relieve headaches. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and NSAIDs are all options, but be aware that they can further irritate the stomach lining caused by alcohol. Taking Tylenol can worsen the effect of acetaminophen on the liver, leading to permanent damage.
5. Vitamin B6
Taking around 1,200 milligrams of vitamin B6 before, during, and after drinking is thought to have positive effects on the body. Vitamin B6, specifically, supports the brain and central nervous system; however, as a result of the diuretic effect of alcohol on the body, all vitamins are important to replenish when consuming alcohol.
Tea and coffee with caffeine are stimulants that can help to get rid of grogginess, but it can also worsen dehydration, so make sure to balance these drinks with plenty of water. Your mileage may vary on this one.
7. Consume More Alcohol (Not Recommended)
If you accept the perpetual cycle that comes from consuming alcohol to eliminate a hangover, then this may work for you in the short term. Even an occasional drink can lead to alcohol-withdrawal, which is one cause of a hangover. Consuming more alcohol can reduce or eliminate this type of withdrawal due to a release of hormones in the brain and a dulling of your senses. But, as you would expect, this only delays the inevitable, may lead to alcoholism, and damage to your body, especially the liver.
Supplements for Liver Health
It is incredibly important that you listen to your body and visit with your doctor to check your liver function if you drink more alcohol than you should. This includes binge drinking, which is defined as the consumption of four drinks for women and five drinks for men within a two hour period. Binge drinking five or more times in a month is considered heavy alcohol use.
If you fall into either of these groups, you are likely beating up on your liver. That’s not to say your liver can’t recover; in fact, it is more resilient than you think. Still, it may be a good idea for you to look for ways to support your liver health each day. Liver Detox & Blood Refresh from Irwin Naturals, Siliphos from Thorne Research, and Livit-2 from Ayush Herbs are all options that you may choose to consider.
Of course, you will want to consult with your doctor before adding supplements to your normal diet. Other ways of support the body include what has been mentioned above, but also including exercise, taking breaks between drinking days, not smoking or taking hard drugs, and never driving after consuming alcohol.
Hangover symptoms are punishment delivered by your body to tell you that it’s not happy with how things went the night before.
Helping the body to replenish fluids, nutrients, and sugars is a good way to start reversing what you’ve done to your body. Thankfully, hangover symptoms are often short-lived, just don’t ignore what your body is telling you and don’t push yourself too hard until you recover. Also, consider moving drinking nights away from workdays so you can have the morning and afternoon to fully recover.
While there is no surefire way to prevent or cure a hangover, these suggestions should get you back to normal sooner.