December 31, 2010 (PRESS RELEASE) --
Pharmacist Jan Engle visits ABC7 with tips to help you avoid hangovers and to recover when you get one.
More than 75 percent of people who consume alcohol have experienced a hangover at least once. Hangover symptoms include headache, fatigue, nausea, dehydration, difficulty sleeping and a poor sense of overall well-being. Alcohol causes your body to produce more urine. Hangovers are caused by the dehydration that occurs from the increase in urination as you tend to lose more fluid than you replace. Alcohol irritates the lining of your stomach increasing stomach acid which can cause pain and nausea. Hangover symptoms usually occur when blood alcohol levels drop and are at or near zero.
Situations that can make a hangover more severe: Drinking on an empty stomach. Food will slow the absorption of alcohol and can decrease the likelihood of a hangover depending on how much you drink. Drinking "dark" colored alcohol. Different types of alcohol can result in differing severity of hangovers. Byproducts of fermentation are the toxins (congeners) partially responsible for hangover symptoms. It is best not to mix different types of alcohol while drinking. Red wine and dark liquors like bourbon, whiskey, brandy and tequila have the greatest amount of toxins. White wine and clear liquors like rum, vodka and gin contain less congeners and cause less frequent and less severe hangovers. Avoid carbonated mixers - they can increase alcohol absorption. Smoking along with alcohol intake can increase the likelihood of a hangover. Smoking decreases oxygen flow to your blood which can worsen a hangover. Lack of sleep after a night of drinking. Sleep quality is affected by alcohol and can contribute to hangover symptoms.
Hangover remedies that may provide relief: Drink lots of water. Alcohol causes dehydration so increasing your water intake both while you are drinking and just before bed can help. Fruit juices that contain fructose can help the body metabolize alcohol and can boost blood sugar. Have a snack. Complex carbohydrates like toast, cereal and bread can increase your blood sugar and settle your stomach. Replace electrolytes. Sports drinks that contain electrolytes, bananas, and bouillon soup can all restore sodium and potassium that may have been lost with frequent urination. Vitamins - because of the diuretic effect of alcohol, you may deplete your B vitamins Taking a B complex vitamin supplement can help in aiding in the metabolism of the alcohol and other carbohydrates which are a source of energy. Analgesics - if you have had 3 or more drinks, you should not take a pain reliever without first consulting your doctor. The anti-inflammatory products like aspirin and ibuprofen can irritate your already irritated stomach and cause bleeding. Acetaminophen mixed with large amounts of alcohol can cause liver damage.
Cures - Fiction: Hair of the Dog - only delays the inevitable. Drinking more alcohol can make the symptoms seem to lessen at first but will only make the hangover worse once the liver breaks down the alcohol as there will be even more toxins to deal with. Black coffee - caffeine will fight fatigue, but it can cause more dehydration due to the diuretic effect. It can also disturb sleep patterns which can worsen the hangover.
Summary: Eat before drinking. Limit yourself to one drink per hour. Drink one type of alcohol throughout the evening and try to avoid "darker" alcohols like whiskey, bourbon and red wine. Drink water in-between alcoholic drinks to stay hydrated.