A sip of bubbly here, a glass of holiday eggnog there, drinking too much at the holiday party can make you feel like you were hit by a truck. Anyone who has taken a few too many sips of an alcoholic beverage knows the feeling of a hangover quite well. A pounding headache, nausea and exhaustion are all telltale signs of a killer hangover. To beat the “Too Much Bubbly Blues”, we turned to a medical expert at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital who offered six tips for curing a holiday hangover.
Why do we get a hangover in the first place? Tracy Quinn, DO, a family medicine physician at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington explains why hangovers make us feel so miserable.
“A hangover is essentially a build-up of acetaldehyde which is a toxin in the liver,” said Dr. Quinn. “When drinking too much, the liver can’t produce enough glutathione, a compound that contains the amino acid L-cysteine, to combat it. Cysteine breaks down acetaldehyde into water and carbon dioxide, which is then flushed out of the body as urine.”
After conducting a quick Google search, you’ll finds numerous home hangover remedies as well as a laundry list of various potions one can purchase over the Internet.
“Hangovers make you feel horrible because alcohol is toxic,” Dr. Quinn explains. “Scientifically nothing has been shown to ‘cure’ a hangover but there are a few tips to help nurse the pain.”
1. Sleep, Sleep, Sleep
Most hangovers are over after eight to 24 hours.
2. Flush Your System
Alcohol is dehydrating and when you are dehydrated, your body is depleted of potassium and sodium, which is why you have that achy “hit by a dump truck” feeling the next morning. Doctors say try to replenish your body with lots of fluids. Drink water or drinks that are heavy in electrolytes, such as sports drinks or coconut water.
3. Pick the Right Pain Relief
Take aspirin or ibuprofen the next morning for a headache but not acetaminophen (Tylenol). Acetaminophen is processed by your liver that has just taken a hit from your over drinking.
4. Be Leery of Caffeine
Caffeine, like alcohol, is a diuretic, which can further dehydrate your body after drinking, making the headache much worse, so drink extra water if you’re going to reach for a cup of coffee, tea or an energy drink.
5. Avoid the ‘Hair of the Dog’
While that Bloody Mary or extra pint of beer with breakfast the next morning sounds like a rallying move, more alcohol means more dehydration, meaning a worse hangover
6. Have a Snack
Bland foods, such as toast and crackers, can help boost blood sugar and settle your stomach. Eating chicken noodle or bouillon soups, which are loaded with sodium and potassium, can help you feel better. Foods and drinks that contain fructose, such as honey, apples, berries or fruit juice, as well as vitamin C and B can also help metabolize alcohol.
“The bottom line is that the best way to avoid a hangover is to stay away from alcohol entirely,” said Dr. Quinn. “If it’s too late for that, keep in mind that the body has an amazing capacity to heal on its own. In the end, the most effective treatment for a hangover is time.”
For more than 30 years, Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital has served the Barrington community by providing quality, compassionate health care services to families throughout the northwest suburbs. Today, more than 700 physicians representing 50 medical specialties have chosen to affiliate with Good Shepherd Hospital.
About the Author
She works on getting the word out about all the wonderful news and accomplishments at the hospital as well as community events and activities.
Erin recently relocated from Chicago to Palatine where she lives with her husband, two young daughters and her dog Kallie.
She enjoys exploring new restaurants, practicing yoga and pilates, reading as much as possible and attempting to keep up with all the news on social media.