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Q: I don’t know if you’ll know this but I was wondering if you had any advice for curing a hangover? I always feel super crappy for days after a long night out and I don’t know what I can do to feel better. I drink a lot of water and try to get a lot of sleep but nothing helps!
You know bodies – do you have any ideas?
A: Oh, I hear you. We’ve all been there. Unfortunately, there is no magic home remedy (although I can tell you that hungover medical students have been known to hook themselves up to bags of IV fluid, which I’ve been told works wonders!). To some degree, a hangover is just par for the course – one of those lessons the Universe likes to teach us to keep us out of trouble. But assuming the deed is done, what can you do to minimize your suffering? Here are a few tips:
- If you’re conscious enough in the midst of your drinking binge, make sure to alternate your alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic ones to help your body stay hydrated in the presence of such a strong dehydrator.
- After you’ve thrown up in the cab and rid yourself of any strays who might have followed you home, down a very large glass of Gatorade, which can help replace the electrolytes you’ve lost. If you can keep it down, chug two or three glasses.
- Avoid caffeine. Coffee will not help sober you up. It will just make you a jittery, nervous drunk. Because it also dehydrates you, it will only worsen your hangover.
- Although people may tell you to take two aspirin or a dose of Tylenol before you hit the hay, both can cause more harm than good. Aspirin can irritate the stomach and make you more likely to wind up praying to the porcelain gods. And Tylenol can be toxic to the liver, which is likely busy trying to break down alcohol. Try some extra B vitamins instead.
- Sleep in. Call in sick if you must. Your body needs rest to repair itself.
- Forget the hair-of-the-dog advice. Unless you’re an alcoholic in the midst of withdrawing (in which case you’ve got bigger problems and need help), a little nip of alcohol in the morning is likely to just prolong the agony. Try a virgin Bloody Mary instead.
- Get something into your stomach in the morning, even if you don’t feel like eating. Your stomach gets pretty beat up when you’re binging, and food helps to coat it.
- Take ibuprofen or naproxen in the morning to fight off your headache. You tummy will likely have settled down by then and can handle the medication. Take it with food so it doesn’t sit on an empty stomach.
- Take a shower. It’s likely to perk you up and get the stink off you.
- If you can stand it, get outside and move your body. It gets your blood flowing and provides welcome endorphins to help you fight the after-effects of too much booze.
Keep in mind that hangovers are our body’s way of responding to an overdose. Because our livers can’t keep up with the alcohol we put in, the whole body rebels. Do your body a favor and stave off hangovers the best way – prevention.
–Dr. Lissa Rankin’s book, What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in Fall 2010. She invites you to join her Pink online community (www.owningpink.com/forum) or read more of her writing at Owning Pink (www.owningpink.com).