Obviously, not drinking any alcohol is the best solution. But if you do drink, here are simple tips to help prevent and relieve the misery.
Alcohol promotes urination because it inhibits the release of vasopressin, a hormone that decreases the volume of urine made by the kidneys. If your hangover includes diarrhea, sweating, or vomiting, you may be even more dehydrated. Although nausea can make it difficult to get anything down, even just a few sips of water might help your hangover.
Getting some carbohydrates into your system.
Drinking may lower blood sugar levels, so theoretically some of the fatigue and headaches of a hangover may be from a brain working without enough of its main fuel. Moreover, many people forget to eat when they drink, further lowering their blood sugar. Toast and juice is a way to gently nudge levels back to normal.
Avoiding darker-colored alcoholic beverages.
Experiments have shown that clear liquors, such as vodka and gin, tend to cause hangovers less frequently than dark ones, such as whiskey, red wine, and tequila. The main form of alcohol in alcoholic beverages is ethanol, but the darker liquors contain chemically related compounds (congeners), including methanol.
The same enzymes process ethanol and methanol, but methanol metabolites are especially toxic, so they may cause a worse hangover.
Taking a pain reliever — but not Tylenol.
Aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, other brands), and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help with the headache and the overall achy feelings. NSAIDs, though, may irritate a stomach already irritated by alcohol.
Don’t take acetaminophen (Tylenol): if alcohol is lingering in your system, it may accentuate acetaminophen’s toxic effects on the liver.
Drinking coffee or tea.
Caffeine may not have any special anti-hangover powers, but as a stimulant, it could help with the grogginess. However, it’s important to keep in mind that caffeine and alcohol should never be mixed because the caffeine can mask the depressant effects of alcohol, making drinkers feel more alert than they would otherwise.
Taking B vitamins and zinc.
A study published in The Journal of Clinical Medicine evaluated the diets for 24 hours before and after excessive drinking occurred. It was a small study and results were based on the participants saying what they ate.
However, they did find that people whose food and beverage consumption contained greater amounts of zinc and B vitamins had less severe hangovers.
Hair of the dog.
Drinking to ease the symptoms of a hangover is sometimes called taking the hair of the dog, or hair of the dog that bit you. The notion is that hangovers are a form of alcohol withdrawal, so a drink or two will ease the withdrawal. However, the hair of the dog just perpetuates a cycle. It doesn’t allow you to recover.