With the party season upon us, I think it’s that time of year we need to address this important issue….
The sad fact of life is that if you drink too much alcohol, you will end up with the pounding headache, queasy stomach or fuzzy-headed feeling that is a hangover, I found this article in the Daily Mail archives and knew I must share it! My hangovers are getting worse each weekend, I think from now on preparation is the key!
With the weekdays getting harder and the weekends getting messier these tips are sure to come in handy.
Often accompanied by a whispered “never again”, hangovers last between five and 24 hours and although not an illness per se, they can be very unpleasant.
Recently, scientists confirmed what for many was already clear – hangovers get worse the older you become. Age is just one of many contributory factors that determine their severity and duration.
Studies have found that women and Asian people possess fewer of the enzymes that metabolise alcohol, and so are more prone to its after-effects.
“Alcohol affects the body in many ways, so there are numerous causes for hangover symptoms,” says Dr Graham Archard of the Royal College of GPs.
“Alcohol is a diuretic so it expels water before it can be absorbed, hence a major cause of a hangover is dehydration.
“However, it is also an irritant to the stomach, which is why you get the feelings of nausea. It also robs the body of vitamins and minerals and interferes with the quality of our sleep, so it can cause psychological differences, too.”
Should you wake up with throbbing temples and a throat drier than sand, what can you do about it? LUCY ELKINS asked a team of experts for their best tips.
Dr Graham Archard is a practising GP and vice-chairman of the Royal College of GPs. He says:
Drink a rehydration or diarrhoea treatment sachet before you go to bed. One of the reasons people wake up with an awful headache after drinking is due to low blood sugar levels.
Alcohol is mainly sugar and gives the body a real rush of sugar. When blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas produces insulin to try to bring them back down to normal.
As alcohol is so rich in sugar, the body produces too much insulin and starts to bring blood sugar down too far. This is why people feel so hungry after a big night of drinking, and it also causes headaches.
Raising your blood sugar levels before you go to bed can help that. A dehydration sachet is good because it provides sugar and replaces lost fluid as well as minerals and salts of which alcohol depletes the body.
Take one the night before and another the following morning if you still feel rough. Soluble painkillers work well for headaches and are gentle on the stomach.
Dioralyte sachets are available from chemists and cost £3.49 for six.
Angela Chalmers is a pharmacist for Boots at the company’s flagship Oxford Street store. She says:
Personally, I find Berocca tablets help. They are effervescent tablets which contain vitamin C, B vitamins as well as calcium and magnesium. They help replace nutrients lost though alcohol. I take one in the morning if I have a hangover, and it helps perk me up. They cost £3.99 for 15 tablets.
Before a night out, I would recommend taking either milk thistle, a herb that helps detoxify the liver, or trying RU-21. These pills contains monosodium glutamate, the ingredient found in Chinese food, but it is said to help mop up the toxins in alcohol so helps prevent a hangover.
They cost £4.99 for 20 tablets.
The best thing for an unsettled stomach is a drug called motilium which can help stop nausea. It slows down the action of the gut and works on the sickness centre in the brain so reducing feelings of nausea. It is available without prescription; one tablet should be taken four times a day. A packet of ten tablets costs £4.99.
Jane Clarke is the Daily Mail’s nutritionist. She says:
I swear by milk thistle. This helps the liver eliminate alcohol faster from the body. I can feel unwell after even a glass of wine, so if I have had a drink I take 350mg before I got to bed and another 350mg in the morning.
If you do get a hangover then avoid strong coffee as this will dehydrate the body further. Milky tea can help settle the stomach and chamomile tea can get rid of the shakes.
Fruit juice is good as fructose speeds up the body’s metabolism of alcohol, but avoid orange or grapefruit juice as these can further irritate an already inflamed stomach.
Even if you feel really queasy it is good to try to eat something as low blood sugar levels will increase the feeling of nausea. A banana is a good light snack to start with that is gentle on the stomach.
Try to eat foods with a low glycaemic index such as a bowl of porridge, wholemeal toast served with high fruit spread or a fruit smoothie as these will raise blood sugar levels slowly and consistently.
Protein foods such as eggs are also good. They will make you feel better as they help form the feel-good chemicals serotonin and endorphins in the brain.
Fatty foods such as fry-ups are hard to digest and may make you feel worse. Salty foods such as bacon will leave you feeling even thirstier. Try to eat little and often throughout the day to maintain your blood sugar levels.
If you are having to eat on the run then choose a wholegrain bread sandwich with a good quality protein filling such as a chicken rather than a fatty croissant or pastries that could increase your feelings of nausea.
THE HYDRATION EXPERT
Dr Paul Stillman is a GP and a member of the Expert Group on Hydration, an independent panel of experts who aim to raise awareness about the importance of drinking enough fluids. He says:
Certain strong alcohols such as spirits cause the kidneys to shut down temporarily and reduce the amount of urine they produce. This means that you stay drunker for longer and the resulting hangover lasts for longer.
However, drinking a soft drink beforehand kick-starts the kidneys into producing urine so that when you start drinking alcohol it will be flushed out of the system quickly. This means you won’t get so drunk, and any resulting hangover will not last as long.
If you do get a hangover, then drinking fluid such as water or fruit juice is the single most important way to beat it. Alcohol is a toxin, and when we consume an alcoholic drink, it causes fluid to be sent to the kidneys and expelled as urine, rather than to be absorbed into the blood.
At the same time, alcohol relaxes the arteries and together with the reduction in water circulating this reduces blood pressure. This causes the shaky hands and fuzzy headed feelings that often accompany a hangover.
Drinking fluid will bring blood pressure back up and will also help with the headaches. The brain is 75 per cent water. If the body becomes dehydrated then it shrinks and you get throbbing temples.
THE ADDICTION EXPERT
Nick Gully is director of addiction services at The Priory in Roehampton, South-West London. He says:
Eat something before you go out drinking, because this helps to line the stomach and protect it from the irritating effects of alcohol. That stops the alcohol being absorbed so quickly, which reduces the risk of a hangover.
Alcohol is a chemical and so taken in large doses it has psychological effects, causing what is known as the rebound effect.
Alcohol affects the brain’s chemistry in several ways and makes us feel initially relaxed and happy. But when it is metabolised the brain’s chemistry alters again and can cause feelings of mild depression, anxiety or paranoia.
It is a common side-effect because a lot of people have a drink to make themselves feel better about things, but end up feeling worse than ever the next day.
Drinking also reduces the quality of sleep, so people with a hangover often feel disorientated, too. People should try to take the next day quite easy, but be careful not to isolate yourself because this will heighten any feelings of anxiety or paranoia.
Also avoid energy drinks and caffeine. These are mood-enhancers, so if you feel a bit sensitive or a bit down with your hangover, it will make you feel worse. These type of drinks also further dehydrate the body.
Simon Rowe is assistant bar manager at The Dorchester Hotel in London. He says:
One of the best things for a hangover is a non-alcoholic cocktail made from carrot juice, celery, lemon juice and mint. The carrot provides vitamins, the celery helps provide minerals such as potassium and the mint eases the stomach. It is really refreshing and hydrates at the same time.
Another good cure is a citron pressé. This is freshly-squeezed lemon juice with fizzy water and a touch of sugar. Again it hydrates and the lemon juice replaces vitamins lost through drinking alcohol.
The other special one we do is a Blood Bull. This is like a Bloody Mary but it contains beef con-sommé, which is rich in minerals such as iron, vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice and Tabasco.
I always reach for a flat Coke myself. It is something about the sugar, I think, that makes me feel better.
Penny Smith is a presenter on GMTV. She says:
My hangovers have definitely got worse the older I have become. I had the most awful one the other day after a riotous night out with chilled sherry, champagne cocktails and red wine.
As a cure, I favour a mixture of carbohydrates, still water and tablets. I find Solpadine and Nurofen work best, but I have also tried homeopathic arnica tablets to get rid of a really bad one.
I’m not sure if it works but I operate on the principle that anything in the medicine cabinet might help. Otherwise I lie in a darkened room.
So my hangover plan for this weekend involves
Vitamin C ( I have soluble ones from my local pound shop!)
Milk Thistle Capsules
Water Water Water
Meal before I go out
Glass of whole milk before I go out to line my stomach.
*Avoid caffeine & greasy food the next morning.
What’s your plan? Do you have any remedies to share?