What is a hangover and can I prevent it?
Hangovers are evidence of the body’s withdrawal
symptoms from alcohol use and the body's reaction to the toxicity of
severity of symptoms varies according to the individual and the
quantity of alcohol
Symptoms may include:
There are many myths about how to prevent or alleviate hangovers,
and people try
many different approaches to relieve the effects of "the morning
after." The only
safe way to prevent a hangover is to drink in moderation:
- Eat a good dinner and continue to snack throughout the
- Alternate one alcoholic drink with one non-alcoholic
- Avoid drinking games or shots. Drinking a large amount
of alcohol in a short amount of time is the most likely way to become
Here are some of the things that WON'T help a hangover:
- Drinking a little more
alcohol the next day. This simply puts more alcohol in your body and
effects of the alcohol intoxication.
- Having caffeine while drinking will not counteract
the intoxication of alcohol; you simply get a more alert drunk
caffeine will continue to lower your blood sugar and dehydrate you
even more than
- Giving water to someone who is throwing up. Once the stomach
irritated enough to cause vomiting, it doesn't matter what you put
into it -- it's
going to come back up. Any liquid will cause a spasm reaction and
- Be advised about taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) for a
hangover headache. When
the body has to process both alcohol and acetaminophen, it may
that are toxic to the liver.
Here are some things that MIGHT help a hangover:
- When you wake up, it's important to eat a healthy meal.
Processing alcohol causes a drop in blood sugar and can contribute to
- Drink plenty of water and juice to get re-hydrated.
- Avoid excessive caffeine as it may contribute to
dehydration. However, if you drink coffee every
morning, have your first cup not more than a couple of hours after
time. Don't force your body to go through caffeine withdrawal in
addition to alcohol
- An over-the-counter antacid (Tums, Pepto Bismol or Maalox)
may relieve some of the symptoms of an upset stomach.
- Do not go too many hours without food as this will increase
the effect of the low blood sugar caused by alcohol.
- Eat complex carbohydrates like crackers, bagels, bread,
cereal or pasta.
Content adapted from the UCSB Alcohol & Drug Program.