With New Year's Eve around the corner, many feel the looming inevitability of the struggles of the hangover. Dec. 31 is the one day of the year when even responsible adults will set all caution to the winds and indulge in heavy drinking. While a few glasses of wine may be healthy, consuming large amounts of alcohol is toxic and dangerous to the body.
The next-day results of a fun night at a bar, club or party may leave revelers feeling dehydrated, tired, nauseous and irritable. Hangovers are accompanied by dry mouth, headaches, difficulty concentrating, sensitivity to light and noise and trouble sleeping.
The next-day blues are caused by a combination of internal failings that occur when you drink too much alcohol. The ethanol in alcoholic beverages dehydrates the body and causes headaches, dry mouth and tiredness. Glucose is needed for the brain to function properly, and alcohol consumption slows down the liver's ability to supply the proper amount of glucose to the brain. Sugars and congeners, byproducts of alcohol fermentation, make hangovers worse than they would be otherwise. Dark spirits have more congeners, as do cheaper drinks.
We offer you 18 tips to fend off the inevitable aches and pains that may plague New Year's Day 2012.
Alka Seltzer Morning Relief: Many swear that Alka Seltzer soothes the stomach and hydrates the body. If you find yourself headed towards the toilet, it can help calm your stomach down.
Avoid Caffeine: One of the main side effects of a hangover is dehydration. When it comes to replenishing your electrolytes, you want to stay far away from caffeine. Like alcohol, caffeine tends to dehydrate the body, so while it might wake you up initially, your hangover might last longer.
Berocca (Vitamins B and 12 especially): This health tablet available in health food stores and vitamin shops packs a powerful combination of B group vitamins, Vitamin C, magnesium, calcium and zinc. The tablet can help replenish the vitamins in your system and help you get over the hangover.
Bury Yourself In Sand: In Ireland, a popular hangover myth is that the sure way to rid yourself of headaches and light sensitivity is to bury your body in moist river sand up to the neck. While we do not recommend trying this at home, you may want to wrap your head in a cool wet towel or compress.
Cabbage Juice: In Greece, cabbage juice is a popular hangover remedy. A study at Stanford University found that cabbage juice can help heal stomach ulcers and it seems the juice has a similar effect with hangovers. The juice is rich in soluble fiber and has many vitamins, including C and E.
Coffee: While avoiding caffeine will help you long term, any hangover pro can tell you that a hot cup of coffee will fend off some of the pains associated with hangovers for the moment. Caffeine will wake you up and may ease your headaches. Be sure to pair a cup of coffee with a few cups of water to avoid becoming dehydrated.
Drink Pickle Juice: Polish tradition is that to cure hangovers you should drink pickle juice. While we have not tried this one, eating pickles can help replenish the Vitamin C in your body. Pickles are calming foods for the stomach and may ease your nausea. The fermentation process produces probiotic bacteria which soothes your stomach. The vitamin B12 boosts blood and liver function, says Cath Collins, chief dietician at St George's Hospital in London.
Exercise: While most people suffering from hangovers would never dream of going to the gym, moving your body and sweating can help you feel better quicker. Although those suffering from serious hangovers may not be able to get out of bed, a mild hangover may be cured by a quick run.
Greasy Food: Every hangover should be accompanied with a side of fries. Greasy food will not help your hangover, but it might make you feel better. Although the food will most likely not help your body recover, those suffering from hangovers will recount that it feels like the fries, burgers and grease are absorbing the alcohol.
Hair of the Dog: Many people swear that the only way to really get over a hangover is to do the one thing you do not want to do: drink more. If you do try to ease your hangover by drinking, opt for healthier options, like a Bloody Mary, which pairs alcohol with tomato juice and celery.
Hot and Cold Showers: Both hot and cold water will make your head and body feel fresher and healthier after a long night out. If you alternate between hot and cold water while taking a shower, it will ease the pain in your head and to help you recover faster.
Lots of Water or Sports Drinks: While drinking water might not make you feel better immediately, it is one of the few remedies that you must do. After a night out, your body is dehydrated and tired. It needs water to feel rejuvenated again. Drink water when you get home after a night out and continue to drink water all throughout the next day. Sports drinks will also work well as they will replenish your electrolytes.
Pain Relievers: There are an endless number of over-the-counter pain relievers that can help you through a hangover. Stay away from acetaminophen because it can be dangerous when mixed with alcohol. Instead opt for aspirin, ibuprofen or Excedrin.
Plain Honey: Some heavy drinkers claim that a spoonful of honey will help ease pain in your throat and mouth. Add honey to decaffeinated tea or hot water to help rid your mouth and throat of the aches associated with a hangover.
Prickly Pear Extract: A study conducted at the Tulane Health Sciences Center in New Orleans in 2004 found that prickly pear extract works wonders on fending off nausea, dry mouth and the loss of appetite associated with hangovers. In the study, people were asked to take the prickly pear extract before beginning to drink, so you might want to try that option on New Year's Eve.
Sleep: Ultimately, the only sure way to cure a hangover is to wait. What better way to spend New Year's Day than to sleep off the aches and pains? Be sure to remain hydrated even if you do spend most of the day in bed.
Spa Treatment: Gwyneth Paltrow swears that the best hangover remedy is a hot and cold spa treatment. I've been known to recreate this experience at home too. Just draw a bath that is as hot as you can handle it and mix in some Epsom salts and baking soda. Soak for 20 minutes and then pop into a freezing cold shower for one minute. Get back in the hot bath and stay until you're warmed up. Then get back in the shower for one more minute, If you have the time and the inclination, I've found that the best hangover remedy can be a hot and cold spa treatment, the actress told Page Six.
Tripe Soup (or Chicken Noodle): This rare hangover cure is popular in Eastern Europe and Turkey in particular. It's basically a cheap form of low-fat protein, salts and liquid in the perfect concentration to speed up the rehydration process after a big night out, says Collins, chief dietician at St George's Hospital in London. But you should get the same effect from chicken noodle soup, which has a similar nutritional content.
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