Got a Hangover? Leading Doctors Explain What You Need to Do

Spire Healthcare doctors explain how to minimise the effects of a hangover

The festive season is approaching fast, which means that the fun, socialising, and laughter will ramp up. With this influx of merriment comes the increased chance of getting a hangover. So, what do you do if you get one? We ask the experts…

The holiday season is a time when many will want to celebrate. Something that seems to go hand-in-hand with every type of celebration is alcohol and consuming too much usually leads to one thing, and that is the dreaded hangover. The only way to guarantee not getting a hangover is to cut out the alcohol. However, this is easier said than done.

So, what can you do to reduce the unwanted effects? There’s been solutions, cures and advice published since time immemorial, and none of them is guaranteed to work. The simplest way to find an answer is to talk to medical experts, and below is some timely advice from the Doctor’s at Spire Healthcare that should help those who have inadvertently consumed a little too much.

Q. How would you replenish the body? Is it just a myth that we should be giving ourselves electrolytes, or are there foods/drinks we should always have after a night out of drinking?
A. The most important thing to do after a night of drinking is to hydrate yourself by drinking water. You can usually replace any lost electrolytes easily through food — bananas are a good source of potassium, and avocados, nuts and sweet potatoes are a good source of magnesium. Avoid foods that will be harder for your body to digest, e.g. dairy products, refined sugar and fatty meat.

Instead, eat fresh fruits, vegetables, soups and broths. If you have lost a lot of fluids and consequently electrolytes, e.g. you’ve been vomiting or have diarrhoea, you may want to try a low-sugar electrolyte drink.

Q. What is the most common myth that we seem to believe?
A. There are lots of hangover myths out there, but perhaps the biggest is that drinking lots of water can prevent or cure a hangover. This isn’t true as the rate at which your body clears the toxins produced by drinking alcohol — which is what causes your hangover — can’t be changed.

However, drinking water is still important to prevent or reduce the effects of dehydration caused by alcohol. Drinking coffee, drinking more alcohol or eating deep-fried, salty foods also won’t help cure your hangover. If you have been drinking heavily, it is essential that you wait at least 48 hours before drinking again to give your body time to recover.

Q. What happens to the body during a ‘binge’ period? Is it just a short term negative effect, or is it a prolonged issue that will only arise when you get older? Does ‘Dry January’ mean anything? Or has the damage already been done?
A. Binge drinking has serious short-term and long-term effects. In the short term, it can cause dehydration, nausea, poor coordination, poor judgement, diarrhoea, and in more serious cases, hearing and vision problems, difficulty breathing, blackouts, alcohol poisoning and even coma.

In the long term, binge drinking can cause high blood pressure, weight gain, heart problems, nerve damage, liver damage and bowel problems, as well as increasing your risk of diabetes and, in severe cases, causing brain damage, infertility and stroke.

Quitting alcohol for even a month, such as during Dry January, can help to reduce some of the effects of binge drinking, specifically helping lower your blood pressure and reduce your weight and risk of diabetes. However, it isn’t clear how long these benefits last. Many of the short-term effects of binge drinking are unavoidable, and many of the long-term effects are irreversible, which is why it’s best to drink in moderation.

Read more health-related news and guides here.

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