What remains after a drunken night of debauchery are faint memories of alcohol-fueled dancing and flirting, the beginnings of a massive headache, and the unwanted hangover that sees no end in sight.
While it may sound fun to heed advice from some of the most famed writers and poets, staying drunk isn’t the best way to avoid a hangover. The best way to cope with it is to cure it. But don’t reach for that bottle of painkillers just yet. Reaching for the wrong type of painkiller might do more damage than good.
Forget the Tylenol
Alcohol and hangovers increase your risk for liver damage when you take acetaminophen or paracetamol. It might be tempting to take a Tylenol before going to bed or when the headache starts to set in, but the liver can only process so much, and alcohol metabolism can be slow depending on how much you’ve drunk.
If you do want to take a painkiller, check yourself for any symptoms like nausea, dehydration, abdominal pains, or acid reflux. Be cautious when using a painkiller for a hangover. Take an ibuprofen after a meal, and always check the recommended dosage.
Make sure to stay hydrated and full throughout the day because pain relievers can be gastric irritants when taken on an empty stomach. Dehydration also increases the chances of kidney dysfunction when ibuprofen is introduced into your system.
Alcohol and the Body
There’s no magical chant nor fervent prayer that can cut hangovers short. However, you can combat its symptoms. Before we proceed, let’s take a look at what happens to our body after it has been bombarded with alcohol.
Obviously, drinking alcohol in large amounts isn’t good for the body since it is a toxic substance. Alcohol can cause oxidative stress by increasing the level of metals and reactive oxygen species in the body while also reducing our antioxidant stores.
Like any other thing you ingest, it will be metabolized into another form which is acetaldehyde, a form that is much worse. It reacts with proteins and then prevents the formation of important enzyme activities. These damages and stress within the body is why you feel sick after a night of drinking.
Alcohol also causes vasodilation, or the expanding of blood vessels. When the effects of alcohol start to wear off, the vessels will constrict. These two opposing actions cause pain, specifically headaches.
Alcohol also causes a person to urinate more while also inflaming the stomach lining. If you’ve been drinking on an empty stomach, expect dehydration, stomach pains, dizziness, and some vomiting.
During alcohol intake, a neurotransmitter called dopamine is released. It’s responsible for making you feel happy and motivated. Quite frankly, this is just one of the reasons why people drink for fun.
However, when you stop drinking, your body has to abruptly deal with the sudden decrease of dopamine. The body tends to overcorrect the situation.
You may notice that the morning of the hangover, you go through phases of regret, emptiness, and other emotions. Once it realizes that neither situation is ideal, it will start to bring the body back to the perfect balance, but this takes time. So the reality here is that hangovers will always take time.
Battling the Symptoms
Since your body is taking its time to recover from last night’s alcohol consumption, you can help yourself by hydrating and eating the correct type of food, drinks, and even supplements. There are also a couple of other things you can do, so make sure to read until the end.
Take Your Vitamins
Nutrients will definitely exit your body from the night before due to alcohol being a diuretic. Since your body’s antioxidants were also depleted, it is smart to take vitamins C and B-Complex with some food. These two vitamins are also antioxidants, and B-vitamins help with your brain function.
Deficiency of vitamin C can lead to fatigue and muscle weakness. A deficiency in B-vitamins, on the other hand, can cause your neurotransmitter formation to go haywire, which can lead to anxiety, depression, fatigue, and irritability.
You may take these vitamins in effervescent pill-form for fast delivery. You may also choose to go the traditional route of vitamins pills and tablets, or stack up on vitamin-rich food.
Since you lost a lot of liquid through urination, your electrolytes are out of balance. To introduce electrolytes and some important vitamins back into your body, make sure to drink a lot of liquids the next day.
It’s actually recommended that you alternate water and shots of alcohol when drinking. Water will replenish the liquid in your body and help you flush out toxins through urination and sweating. However, it doesn’t contain any electrolytes. For electrolytes, you may want to check your favorite sports drink, coconut water, or Pedialyte. Any electrolyte solution that can deliver nutrients orally and immediately is a welcome choice.
Surprisingly, some soda drinks also have a good effect in easing hangovers by replacing the blood sugar in the body without raising the triglycerides. A popular choice is Mexican Coca-Cola which uses sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. This boost of energy in the body can help you get through the day and improve your mood.
Drinks that contain a significant amount of red ginseng is also great since research has shown that it actively lowers the alcohol level by increasing the rate of metabolism and excretion of alcohol. Beware, though, because some red ginseng drinks are actually alcohol-based or contain traces of it.
Ginger tea is a natural anti-inflammatory so you may feel some relief after sipping a cup, but do remember that it can upset an empty stomach. Natural fruit juice is also good.
You can even make smoothies out of fruits that are loaded with vitamins and potassium. Tomato juice can be an alternative if you do not want to irritate an empty stomach with citrus. It’s also been proven to lower alcohol levels in the body to reduce liver damage.
Though your stomach may convince you to stay on the bathroom floor instead of preparing breakfast, try to opt for the latter. You’ll be thankful you did this.
Eggs are easy to cook any way you want them. They contain cysteine, a type of amino acid that helps break down acetaldehyde. It also delivers vitamins A, B12 and E, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and choline to the body.
Soup is great since it doesn’t require a lot of energy to make and to eat. Depending on what kind of soup, you get nutrients and proteins from it. Some people may even opt for noodle soups or to pair soup with bread. The starch in noodles and bread soak up the alcohol which prevents it from entering the blood stream.
Yogurt contains a lot of probiotics that is good for your irritated digestive tract. It also restores potassium to balance your water levels. Yogurt can be paired with bananas, berries, and oats which are great foods for hangovers.
Oats will neutralize the acids in your stomach, provide B-vitamins, and give you an energy boost. Berries pack some of the best antioxidants to fight of the oxidative stress from drinking, and bananas give potassium, and vitamins B and C. If you’re feeling a bit fancier, you can always try kombucha over yogurt since it also has probiotics.
Salads for breakfast sound healthy and fancy. Brightly colored vegetables contain a lot of bioactive components and phenolic nutrients that make sure the homeostasis of the body is retained. The powerful antioxidants will also control the damage within the body and try to repair them.
To Move or to Not Move?
Some people drink a little to induce sleepiness. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when this becomes a habit or when excessive drinking enters the picture. An alcohol-induced sleep has a different quality than sleep that is not. Alcohol tends to disrupt the sleep cycle while also causing other damages within the body.
For the body to recover after a night of drinking, do get enough sleep if you need to. Take a luxurious bath or a relaxing shower before bed. Stay in a room that’s cozy and conducive to quality sleep to give your body some rest and the chance to repair itself.
Some people, on the other hand, prefer to go out and engage in activities that will allow them to move, such as taking a short walk or run. It’s a known fact that exercise helps with metabolism and neurotransmitter activity.
If you’re feeling a little down after drinking, you can naturally regain some feel-good emotions through the dopamine, endorphins, norepinephrine, and serotonin released during and immediately after exercising. Since moving around naturally releases these chemicals, you won’t feel an unnatural crash after an active session.
If you don’t feel like exercising, you can always press play on a feel-good playlist or a funny movie. These can also produce happy hormones and relax you.