First rule: Don’t try to remember how much green beer you drank the night before. Retelling it would be like reliving it.
St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday this year. Depending on how hard you’re celebrating the Irish holiday, you could be in for a whole lot of pain on Saturday morning.
“Hangovers are essentially the body’s reaction to a poison. It’s a substance that stays in the body for a long time and is taken care of by the body by only small amounts by the hour,” Dr. John MacNeill, a pharmacologist and University of British Columbia professor, told Global News.
It’s usually eight hours after a binge when you start to feel the symptoms – fatigue, thirst, headaches, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound.
Here’s everything you need to know about hangovers and how to fight them.
What causes a hangover?
The medical community can’t pinpoint precisely why hangovers kick in, but there are plenty of theories.
For starters, alcohol is a diuretic so you’re excreting more water from your body than you’re taking in. This can leave you dehydrated. Meanwhile your liver is working overtime to clear out the excess booze.
“There’s a disruption in people’s sleep, their biological rhythms change, there’s withdrawal from the alcohol, and electrolyte levels change…the bottom line is we don’t completely know [what causes a hangover] but these could be partly contributing to it,” Dr. Bhanu Kolla, a Mayo Clinic senior consultant and psychiatry professor, told Global News.
This is why you wake up to fatigue, thirst, migraines, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, cramping, sweating, shaking, an increased pulse and an increased blood pressure, Kolla said.
The symptoms stick around for about 24 hours as your body picks itself back up.
Here’s the expert verdict on the most popular hangover cures:
Over the counter drugs: You could be reaching for Tylenol, Advil or Aspirin when you’re bleary-eyed and in pain.
Turns out, Tylenol is a bad idea.
“The liver is working extra hard to get rid of the alcohol and Tylenol is also metabolized by the liver. We don’t want to overburden the liver when it’s already working hard,” Kolla said.
Aspirin can irritate your stomach even more, MacNeill said. If you’re dealing with a headache, Kolla suggests a Motrin or Aspirin could be helpful, but only for those symptoms. No cure is going to offer whole body healing, he said.
If you’ve got a tummy ache, antacids will help too, according to MacNeill.
Kolla said Alka-Seltzer, for example, might help with nausea, cramps and uneasiness in your stomach.
Hair of the dog: Having another drink the day after as an “eye-opener” doesn’t work, the experts say. It’s also risky.
“When we look at a person’s risk of developing alcohol dependence problems, doing this is a risk for going on to develop alcohol dependence,” Kolla said.
Remember, booze is a diuretic and you’re already dehydrated. While more drinking may numb the symptoms, doing this is only going to make things worse.
Drinking water and Gatorade: Guzzle up on liquids, whether it’s H20, Gatorade, coconut water, juice, milk, soup, or anything else that’ll help you rehydrate.
Gatorade will offer a quick hit of sugar, calories and electrolytes, according to Dr. John Brick, director of Intoxikon.
He recommends making sure you drink water before bedtime and again when you wake up in the morning.
What about coffee? For many people, not getting their daily dose of caffeine from coffee or tea could make their hangovers worse, Brick warned. Drink a very small amount in the morning and see how you feel, he said.