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Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Having the occasional glass of wine or a pint of beer with a meal can be very enjoyable for those who choose to drink alcohol. However, some people take their alcohol consumption levels to excess and this can be very dangerous for one’s health. The recommended daily intake of alcoholic units for a man is between 3-4 and between 2-3[1] for a woman. Certainly, the best and most effective way to avoid a hangover altogether is to abstain from drinking alcohol.

Failing this, one should become more consciously aware of their individual intake and to remember to always be in control and to not feel pressured by peers to drink more than usual on an evening out.

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Symptoms Of A Hangover

Alcohol is a diuretic[5] and this means that it removes fluids from the body. When you drink in excess this can therefore lead to feeling dehydrated. You may also feel sick, dizzy, have blurred vision, feel a lack of self-control and a lack of self-awareness, sleepiness, confusion or feel overly confident among other symptoms[2].

In addition, you may feel depressed or anxious mentally. All these factors combined can be dangerous for your health and could put you at risk because you are in a more vulnerable physical and mental state of consciousness.

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1. Water, Water And More Water!

It cannot be stressed enough that when it comes to avoiding a hangover, water is the best remedy. Water will help you during drinking sessions as well as after them and the reasons for this are many. Firstly, water will quench your thirst and help you to stay hydrated. Secondly, it will help to dilute all the alcohol that you have put into your system in the first place.

To understand the ‘hangover state’ in the body one need to consider the science behind it. Alcohol makes people urinate more which increases the probability of dehydration occurring. It also increases the production of stomach acid and slows the rate at which the stomach can empty itself[2]. This in turn causes the feelings of nausea and vomiting that one can experience with a hangover. A more relaxed mental state is obtained through the blood vessels dilating[2] but this can in turn lead to a headache or migraine.

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Having a glass of water in between your alcoholic drinks on a night out will also help. Sometimes you may feel like drinking a fruit juice or fizzy drink instead of water. However, avoid having fizzy beverages because these can actually speed up the absorption of alcohol[4] into your system!

Also, try to drink a large glass of water just before you go to bed to help your body regain some of the vital fluids that have been lost. If the alcohol also disturbs your sleep and wakes you up, then having a little water in the middle of the night will also help. Keep a glass of water by your bedside for easy access in the night.

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2. Sleep

This next tip will apply more after you have had a drink, but to be in the mood for alcohol make sure you that are always feeling well and at your best. This can come from having a good night’s sleep the night before you are going to party or ‘hit the town’ with friends. In addition, when you have been drinking excessive amounts of alcohol this can of course have a knock-on effect on the quality of your sleep. Consequently, you will have a poorer quality of sleep with less ‘REM’ (or deep sleep known as ‘rapid eye movement’ sleep).

Once you are re-hydrated and have possibly eaten something the following morning, then going back to sleep could help you to feel refreshed sooner. You will experience deeper sleep than before and will regain some of that vital ‘REM’ sleep where your brain can switch off more and rejuvenate your body’s cells.

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3. Food

Consuming bland foods after a drinking session will be easier for your stomach to digest. Remember that it is emptying much slower than normal due to the alcohol you have consumed. It is suggested that fructose-containing foods[3] may help your body to metabolize the alcohol more quickly. Such examples of these foods would be honey, cereals, apples and watermelon[3] among others. In addition, ginger tea may help to relieve the feeling of nausea you may be experiencing.

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If you can avoid caffeine too then this is wise because it also acts as diuretic[5] and stops your brain absorbing iron and potassium in particular. Low potassium levels can make you feel very tired. Try eating potassium rich foods such as a banana or baked potato to replace some of the lost potassium[4].

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4. Gentle Walking

If you can manage to get out of bed at all and you feel well enough, then a brief walk outside could do your hangover some real good. This is because oxygen in the air will help to break down the toxins in alcohol faster[4]. In addition, you will help to speed up your metabolic rate and this is important considering that it has just been slowed down by the excessive stomach acid that has been produced through drinking.

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5. Pain Killers

If you are on any long term medication or are unsure if a specific pain killer is suitable for you then always consult a pharmacist or your local GP. Many people find that taking an over the counter pain killer such as paracetamol or aspirin with water to be helpful and to ease their symptoms. Always read the label and be careful not to take too many tablets at once. Always seek medical advice if you are unsure of the correct dosage to take. 

Ultimately, hangovers are damaging for your body both physically and mentally and should be avoided at all costs. However, hopefully some of the above tips can provide you with a way to ease your symptoms should you find that you have drunken to excess. Try to be aware of the units of alcohol that you are consuming each night and stay in control through pacing yourself. If each friend in a group of people looks out for one another then this could help the situation too. Remember that drinking should always be enjoyed responsibly.