Heavy drinking rocks the central nervous system. It tinkers with brain chemicals — leading to headache, dizziness, and nausea — and makes you run to the bathroom so often you become dehydrated. The morning after heavy drinking can include a severe headache, fatigue, dry mouth, painful stomach — and a weakened immune system.
You don’t have to get wasted to pay a price the next morning. Just a couple of drinks can trigger a headache and other hangover symptoms for some people. Having water or a nonalcoholic drink between each beer or hard drink can help keep you hydrated and cut down on the overall amount of alcohol you drink.
Red wine contains tannins, compounds that are known to trigger headaches in some people. Malt liquors, like whiskey, also tend to cause more severe hangovers. If you’re worried about how you’ll feel in the morning, the gentlest choices are beer and clear liquors, such as vodka and gin.
Myth: Diet Cocktails Are a Safe Bet
FACT: Diet drinks may help if you’re counting calories, but not if you’re trying to avoid a hangover. Research suggests that having fruits, fruit juices, or other sugar-containing liquids or lemonades can make for a less intense hangover.
Myth: Pop Pain Relievers Before Bed
FACT: Over-the-counter painkillers peak in about four hours, so a bedtime dose won’t help by the time you wake up. A better plan is to take the pills when you first wake up. Don’t take acetaminophen (Tylenol) after a night of drinking. The combination could hurt your liver.
Myth: Alcohol Helps You Sleep Well
FACT: Just the opposite. While a nightcap may help you doze off more quickly, too much undermines the quality of your sleep. You don’t spend as much time in all-important REM cycles and you tend to wake up too soon. If you’ve been drinking heavily, a hangover might strike in the last part of the night, leaving you too uncomfortable to get back to sleep.
Myth: Have A coffee!
FACT: A lot of coffee leads to more dehydration and could make your hangover worse. After a night of drunkenness, it’s best to sip water and sports drinks to counter dehydration and replace lost electrolytes — especially if you threw up.
British researchers reviewed the studies on hangover pills, such as yeast and artichoke extract. They found no compelling evidence that they worked. Another British team found a supplement made from prickly pear cactus may reduce nausea and dry mouth from hangovers, but not the dreaded headache. The only proven cure is Time.
FACT: Alcohol poisoning is a life-threatening emergency. Symptoms include:
- Confusion, stupor
- Slow, irregular breathing
- Low body temperature, bluish skin
It’s easy to blow off these symptoms as the price of partying hard, but if you see someone vomit multiple times or pass out after drinking heavily, there’s a risk of severe dehydration or brain damage. Call your doctor right away if you feel above symptoms.