A hangover describes the group of adverse effects that occur after a person has drunk too much alcohol and the intoxicating effects of that alcohol have started to wear off.
Once the blood alcohol level significantly drops, the unpleasant symptoms a person might experience include nausea, headache, muscle ache, thirst, diarrhea, lethargy, stomach upset, and over sensitivity to light and sound. Psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, poor concentration, and feelings of irritability may also ensue.
Ethanol, the alcohol present in alcoholic drinks, works as a diuretic, causing the body to shed water in the form of urine. The more a person urinates, the more likely they are to become dehydrated and dehydration is one of the main contributors to hangover symptoms.
The only certain way to avoid a hangover is not to drink, but if a person does decide to drink, they should try to adhere to the following:
In order to minimize the risk of adverse health effects as a result of drinking alcohol, the following is advised:
There is no effective way of curing a hangover, but there are measures people can take to ease their symptoms. Examples include:
The expression “hair of the dog” refers to drinking more alcohol to alleviate hangover symptoms. This is not recommended as it can lead to morning drinking. Furthermore, by doing this, a person may simply be delaying the hangover symptoms until the blood alcohol level has dropped again.
Whether a person experiences a hangover or not after drinking, experts recommend waiting for at least two days before drinking alcohol again so that bodily tissues have a chance to recover.