If you booze, you’ve probably been there. We all experience a hangover differently due to several factors, some get nausea and puke, tummy upsets, others just feel really sick, headache, sore eyes that are very sensitive to light and fatigue.
What is a hangover and why do we get it?
It is just the aftermath of taking “excess” alcohol. Our livers have a limit on the amount of booze or toxic substances they can metabolize in a specific period of time, that is why when you choke it with too many strong drinks it waves the white flag and sends you different signals.
When you start feeling irritated and want to throw up, that is already the liver sending a message to pump the brakes. Sooner, your brain will give in too and you’ll feel dizzy, get double vision and other things.
Now you’re drunk, you know a hangover is coming, what can you do?
1. Take a lot of water. Alcohol has diuretic properties and will dehydrate your body making you feel weak, have a dry throat and mouth. You need to drink water, as much as you can to replenish your body and help you feel better sooner.
2. Take a painkiller before you go to bed. Depending on your body’s resilience and the type of liquor, you’re likely to wake up with a serious thumping headache. It is smart to take 4 Aspirins or mild painkillers such as Ibuprofen before you go to sleep so you don’t wake up feeling like crap.
Best you avoid certain tabs like Paracetamol/Panadol as they will wear out the liver even more and take the meds in front of another person to avoid overdose during your impaired judgement.
3. Eat food. Despite the fact that on most cases you won’t feel like eating because you feel like crap and fear you might puke, you have to eat and stay healthy.
The booze irritates your stomach’s lining which results into puking, nausea and other conditions like a running stomach. Start off less oily and more dry foods, salty foods are best and then a real meal.
4. Take in some sugars. Since the liver is very busy still fighting with all the alcohol you threw at it, your body will usually have low sugar. Take some coffee, fresh juice such as orange juice to combat the way you feel and being moody.
5. Get enough rest. Rest is important, your body needs enough time to repair and reboot itself to its original functions. You need more than the usual 8 hours of sleep for that to successfully happen because alcohol changes sleep patterns by confusing the pituitary gland.
This combined with an excited nervous system which is very sensitive to light, sound and touch will make getting a long uninterrupted sleep hard as hell.
When you can’t sleep anymore, get up and have a chat with your friends, family or take a small walk then sleep again early that day. You’ll feel great.
Contrary to most thoughts, try as much as possible not to exercise or go to gym as you’ll be wearing out the already strained muscles and body functions.
What if you want to avoid getting a hangover altogether, what can you do?
- Eat before you drink. Make it a rule to never consume alcohol on an empty stomach. Food helps dilute alcoholic concentration and also helps you avoid that unbearable feeling of hunger halfway your drinking spree.
- Don’t drink at all. Why are you drinking if it makes you feel like crap the next day and you’ve to work? No one is forcing you to do so, take water and other non-alcoholic drinks such as soda.
- Take less amounts of booze. If you can’t say no to the urge or your peers, at least drink in less amounts. We always know our limits, 2 – 3 bottles of beer, one wine glass, a tot of hard liquor. Don’t push it.
- Don’t be adventurous with liquor. If you’ve never heard of its name or few people take it on a daily, avoid it! Clear coloured or golden booze like vodka is often safe. Be very careful with the fancy coloured ones (pink, purple, red, blue) like bourbon and red wine because they will knock you out and have congeners which bring hangovers.
- Take a lot of water. I can’t stress how important water is to your body and especially when you’re boozing. Alcohol dehydrates you, taking water between each glass or beer bottle and before you leave will save you from a lot of fatigue in the morning.
- Avoid sugar. Sugar is great in the morning when you’re dealing with the aftermath to jumpstart the body but it is a dangerous catalyst on a night swaree. Sugary stuff and soda speed up how fast alcohol enters the bloodstream, the same goes for sweet alcohol so tread with caution.
More often than not, prevention is way better than cure. At least next time you’re having a menacing hangover, you know what to do.
Lawk is a mozillian, writes for Spur, Newslibre and consults part time for Every1Mobile and Innovware.
He loves open source, the open web, writing, reading and developing literacy tools that can teach the youth around the world especially in East Africa.