How to get rid of a hangover: instructions, tips and science
It takes 8-12 hours for the alcohol to be processed and removed from the tissues to get rid of hangover. When the ethanol level in the blood reaches zero, a withdrawal syndrome, commonly called a hangover, sets in. After alcohol poisoning, the body needs support. The action of ethanol is similar to the effect of diuretics. Alcohol promotes the removal of fluid from the body through the urinary system and the respiratory organs.
When intoxicated, breathing becomes faster, the fluid is intensively converted into the vapors of intoxication. The body’s defense mechanism that tries to eliminate ethanol is triggered. As a result, a person loses 0.6 to 1 liter of fluid in an hour or two. Weakness, thirst, dizziness are symptoms that indicate dehydration of the tissues.
Alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach, provoking nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting. The cleavage reaction of ethyl alcohol is accompanied by a decrease in glucose levels and a loss of vitamins and micronutrients. The result is a feeling of weakness, fatigue, sudden change of mood.
Intermediate product of the decomposition of ethanol – acetaldehyde – accelerates the heart rate, causes tachycardia and increased sweating. Nervous system functions are disrupted and REM sleep phase is reduced. If alcohol was consumed the night before, the person feels exhausted and depleted after waking up in the morning.
The destruction of brain cells leads to an increase in the volume of cerebrospinal fluid in the skull. Due to the excess fluid, an excruciating headache sets in.
What is a hangover?
A hangover is a post-intoxication state associated with alcohol abuse. It occurs several hours after a party (usually the next day) and is accompanied by unpleasant physical sensations: headache, nausea, sweating and dry mouth. In addition, the person becomes mentally ill, as alcohol becomes a depressant with frequent and excessive use.
Doctors do not mention the exact causes of a hangover, but several factors may influence its occurrence. Ethyl alcohol is oxidized in the liver and decomposition produces acetic acid and acetaldehyde. The latter is many times more toxic than alcohol itself. In addition, the enzyme CYP2E1 is formed, which produces free radicals and toxins. The symptoms of a hangover can be exacerbated by other ingredients in the drink, such as sugar, tannin and acidophilus. In addition to the poisoning reaction, the person may suffer from edema caused by dehydration and hypovolemia―a lack of fluid in the blood vessels.
The acid-base balance changes, which is why many people are nauseated when they have a hangover. Excessive alcohol consumption disturbs the balance of chemicals in the blood and causes metabolic acidosis, which is characterized by increased acidity.
A hangover can last up to 72 hours after alcohol consumption, but in most cases the period is shorter. Much depends on how much has been drunk, how much the body is dehydrated. Individual factors such as lifestyle, diet, gender, weight, liver condition, stomach health and medications taken, which can exacerbate the condition, are also important.
How to get rid of a hangover: instructions
Getting rid of a hangover means not only fighting the symptoms, but also eliminating the underlying causes: dehydration and intoxication. It is important to restore water-salt balance, blood sugar and oxygen levels. In particularly severe cases, a doctor will be needed, but for mild hangovers, you can manage on your own using the available remedies.
1. Good night’s sleep
Sometimes a good night’s rest and sleep is enough to give the body time and strength to return to normal functioning and cure hangover. Although drinking often reduces the quality of sleep, it is often intermittent and shallow. Prolonged lack of adequate rest worsens the symptoms of a hangover. So don’t plan to get up early if you’ve had too much to drink. Try to make time for rest and sleep as soon as possible. This will prevent headaches, fatigue and irritability associated with hangover syndrome.
2. A healthy breakfast
The morning meal is the most important meal of the day. A balanced breakfast provides energy and helps to get rid of a hangover by maintaining blood sugar levels and counteracting weakness and nausea. Some studies also show that keeping blood sugar levels up relieves alcohol-induced symptoms by lowering acidity in the body. A healthy breakfast helps reduce the effects of partying, especially if it contains important vitamins and minerals. Prefer light foods, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates. Porridge, steamed chicken and fish, and sautéed vegetables are appropriate.
3. Pure water
There are a number of reasons why people become dehydrated when they drink alcohol. Alcoholic beverages have a diuretic effect, which leads to a loss of fluids and electrolytes that are essential for the normal functioning of all body systems . Excessive alcohol consumption often causes nausea and vomiting, which leads to even more fluid loss. Dehydration leads to dizziness, headaches and dry mouth, which accompany a person the day after a meal. To recover faster, drink clean water. Keep drinking throughout the day. Sugar or honey can also be added to the water, which can help restore electrolyte levels and reduce the symptoms of a hangover.
4. Plant extracts
Research supports the benefits of drugstore supplements for relief after a hangover. At the top of the list is red ginseng, which lowers blood alcohol levels. In second place is ginger, especially when combined with brown sugar and tangerine extract. Scientists have proven that the drug reduces the symptoms of alcohol poisoning, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Similar effects were distinguished by borage oil and eleutherococcus extract.
Doctors disagree with the common opinion that sorbents accelerate the elimination of products of alcohol spoilage from the body. A narcologist says, “It is too late to use activated charcoal for a hangover. A hangover is poisoning by products of metabolism when the substances have already been absorbed. There is no point in drinking charcoal beforehand: the ethanol molecule is very small and gets through everything.” However, sorbents are not unnecessary if you suspect you have food poisoning other than a hangover.
6. Painkillers and other medications
If you have a severe headache, there is no point in being patient – take a pill. Although common ibuprofen-based drugs have negative effects on the liver and gastrointestinal tract, at least you can take your mind off it and not stay in bed all day. Choose the medications you know and have been prescribed by your doctor, as new drugs can cause unpredictable reactions from the body and make the condition worse.
7. Fresh air
Oxygen is the engine of all metabolic processes in the body. Fresh air helps to remove breakdown products from the blood more quickly through breathing, and the condition gradually normalizes. If there is no possibility of getting ready and going outside for a short walk, open the windows and ventilate the room well.
Alcohol causes oxidative stress by causing the body to produce free radicals. Some foods with antioxidants help combat these, such as berries, spinach, carrots, nuts and seeds, black and green tea. Keep in mind that this is just a support to keep the body functioning, not a cure that will make the symptoms disappear immediately.
9. Medical help
If simple remedies do not help and you feel very bad, seek help from specialists. This is especially important if you have pain in the stomach, chest or flanks, increased heart rate, drop in temperature and blood pressure, frequent vomiting and confusion. Severe cases require appropriate treatment with drugs administered through an IV.
Not only is it important to get rid of a hangover, but it is also important not to make it worse by treating it incorrectly. For some people, it causes uncontrollable feelings of hunger amid poor physical and emotional well-being, making them want to eat more junk food. The first thing to give up is heavy fatty foods. The fact that alcohol is broken down in the same metabolic way as fat. The load on the liver is enormous, and a piece of pizza or French fries will slow down the excretion of toxins. Try to maintain a healthy balance of proteins, fats and carbohydrates to restore blood sugar levels.
The Internet advises dealing with a hangover through “physical therapy.” But there is no scientific evidence that physical activity relieves the unpleasant symptoms. Moreover, high activity can be harmful because the body is already exhausted and has to spend a lot of energy fighting the effects of alcohol consumption. The only benefit of motor activity is better blood flow and a chance to distract yourself from unpleasant feelings. Therefore, it is possible to quietly clean an apartment or overhaul a closet, but do not overdo it.