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Physiology of hang-overs

  1. Aug 30, 2009 #1
    I drink a fair bit (probably too much) but I always find that when I wake up the next morning I always have a hang-over (even if I didn't drink a whole lot) and, for me, it's always in the stomach. In movies/TV you always see people "needing a cup of coffee" or "an advil". To me those are essentially worthless and when I get hung-over I either need the "hair of the dog" or just keep on sleeping. I'm just curious. Do other people get "headache" hang-overs and actually find that an advil or some such helps/makes you functional for the day? Can other people just hit the coffee pot?

    P.S. I'm sure there are many who would supply a puritan litany about the dangers of alcohol or the purity/superiority of an alcohol free life but I'm just curious about the physiology of hang-overs.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 30, 2009 #2
    Re: Hangovers...

    Sleep it off, it's the only remedy.


    If you can't, go to work and suck it up..
     
  4. Aug 30, 2009 #3
    Re: Hangovers...

    Usually hangovers are caused by dehydration. Try drinking some water before you go to sleep and maybe a glass in the morning.
     
  5. Aug 30, 2009 #4
    Re: Hangovers...

    Like B said, as far as I know the major hangover issue is dehydration. Usually I try to have water and/or gatorade on hand. Neither hydration nor advil will really take care of the fuzzy headedness and such though. I think that some of the symptoms actually come from drinking too much over prolonged periods of time so if you're drinking everyday, or most days, and only have a couple beers one night you may still wake up with the fuzzy head and stomach issues.
     
  6. Aug 30, 2009 #5
    Re: Hangovers...

    Drinking water before you go to bed will help with the dehydration but I doubt it will help with the hangover. You need to be drinking other non-alchoholic fluids WHILE drinking the alchohol. Eat food before drinking as well as when you wake up in the morning... eat as much food as possible.

    Don't drink coffee in the morning it'll just cause further dehydration.

    Normally when I drink I stick to straight vodka sometimes mix it with some sort of fruit drink. I never get a hangover, I'm pretty sure vodka is the best drink to have to reduce hangovers... I'm not sure though.
     
  7. Aug 30, 2009 #6
    Re: Hangovers...

    This is true too I'm pretty sure its methanol that's responsible for the hangover feeling. So if it builds up too much, boom hangover.
     
  8. Aug 30, 2009 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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  9. Aug 30, 2009 #8
    Re: Hangovers...

    I wasn't really looking for folk remedies (the drinking lots of water thing isn't true btw). I was just curious what type of hang-overs other people got. Does anybody get the movie kind? Where you need an advil and a cup of coffee.

    P.S. Usually my prefered hang-over "cure" is just a Caesar (a canadian, alcoholic drink similar to a Bloody Mary)
     
  10. Aug 30, 2009 #9

    Chi Meson

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    Re: Hangovers...

    I encourage moderation. Get totally ripped only every OTHER night.

    I also get the "stomach" hangover. Over the years, I found that it is better for me to stick to beer at parties, that way I just get a simple headache which is reduced if I take ibuprofin before going to sleep.

    Edit: I avoid "clear bottle" beers. I dunno, if they are the same as they were in the past, but the clear bottles required an additive to protect from light degradation. Some people reacted badly to this additive. Might be a rumor, but Miller beers used to kill me every time. Most major brands I avoid anyway; life's too short to waste time with average beer.

    Coffee is only necessary if you already regularly drink it every morning. If you do, and then you skip it, you will add to that headache significantly.
     
  11. Aug 30, 2009 #10

    cristo

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    Re: Hangovers...

    Drinking a lot of water (2-3 pints) before going to bed helps me. I don't really get hangovers anymore, unless I have an unusually crazy night. Back in my undergrad days, I used to have lucozade/powerade standing by in the morning when I got up after a late night. Tea also helps a lot!
     
  12. Aug 30, 2009 #11
    Re: Hangovers...

    I hardly drink at all any more, but I when I used to drink heavily I'd get a combination of headache and queezy stomach, followed by a day of keeping a mental map of the nearest bathroom. After a while I got tired of that and learned a more comfortable limit to my consumption. If I drink too much now I reach a point where I know I'll be sick. Then I excuse myself to the bathroom to vomit, drink some water and find a place to crash. I find that if I don't try to drink past the point where I start to feel sick then my hangovers are just a mild annoyance.
     
  13. Aug 30, 2009 #12
    Re: Hangovers...

    The key for me has been to figure out and realize when that next drink will put me over the edge and then be able to stop. Now I can easily get silly without much trouble the next day.
     
  14. Aug 30, 2009 #13
    Re: Hangovers...

    One day I was dehydrated from excessive exercise and sweating. I woke up in the middle of the night with pain similar to a hangover. I drank water and went back to sleep. Ever since, I've been drinking large quantities of water when I anticipated consuming alcoholic beverages in larger quantities. Most of the time it works, also don't drink on an empty stomach.
     
  15. Aug 30, 2009 #14

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: Hangovers...

    Just to be clear, that link was to a medical explanation and options, not folk remedies.
     
  16. Aug 30, 2009 #15
    Re: Hangovers...

    Drinking water before bed really does help with hangovers...I only get them when I forget to drink enough water before bed.
     
  17. Aug 30, 2009 #16
    Re: Hangovers...

    Drinking water while drinking alchohol does help with hangovers. So does drinking certain kinds of alchohol and so does drinking with a full stomach and eating alot in the morning.

    I do these things and I sometime party pretty crazy. Not remembering what went on sometimes... no hangover.
     
  18. Aug 30, 2009 #17

    JasonRox

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    Re: Hangovers...

    Well, I found that the average person is ALREADY close to dehydration even when sober. Because of bad diets by drinking coffee, soda and such, most people aren't that hydrated to begin with. So when you drink beer and such, you make it EVEN worse when it was already bad.

    I find myself pretty hydrated to begin with and I don't get hangovers. Maybe once out of like 10 times I do.

    I drink in moderation most of the time. Not a fan of getting really drunk, but when I do drink, it's a lot and fast.
     
  19. Aug 30, 2009 #18
    Re: Hangovers...

    Talk about folk remedies! You think drinking MORE alcohol is going to take away your hangover? Good grief...
     
  20. Aug 30, 2009 #19
    Re: Hangovers...

    Hair of the dog usually works fairly well. It may just be because you are buzzed again but if you just want to get rid of the symptoms it'll do. And really, after drinking a bloody mary in the morning what else about your day could be worse?
     
  21. Aug 30, 2009 #20
    Re: Hangovers...

    The hair of the dog remedy is as old as alcohol and of course it works. Part of a hang-over is withdrawl symptom and let's not forget that alcohol is one of civilizations oldest anesthetic/cure-alls. If I ever get a really bad hang-over on like a saturday morning I usually drink a medium amount on saturday (to survive the hang-over) and then I only have a teensy hang-over on sunday.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2009
  22. Aug 30, 2009 #21
    Re: Hangovers...

    Ya, for me as well. Managing a hang-over is all about the SECOND sleep. I always wake up after like 6 hours feeling terrible and can't get back to sleep. I then watch stuff or do something equally easy going for a few hours until I'm tired enough to sleep again. After that second sleep there's a huge improvement.
     
  23. Aug 30, 2009 #22
    Re: Hangovers...

    Not really, I've only ever had a hangover once, and that was after a bottle and a half of Jameson, and about 4 or 5 Irish Car bombs thrown in on top of that...

    Otherwise I've never had one. Usually after drinking, especially liquor, I wake up at about 7am and feel refreshed and ready to start the day.

    Only real type of hangover I get is a sleep hangover. If I sleep for 10+ hours I end up with either a headache or a migraine. And that's not talking about just after drinking, that's any time I sleep 10+ hours, drinking or otherwise.
     
  24. Aug 30, 2009 #23
    Re: Hangovers...

    The main culprit that causes a hangover is acetaldehyde--the intermediate product of alcohol metabolism. It's only 1 extra carbon more than formaldehyde, so you can kind of understand why it is toxic. Water, advil, etc. will help with the symptoms, but won't get rid of a hangover. The only cure is time. Your liver enzymes can only work so fast.

    I've had horrible hangovers before. One hangover I had was so bad I thought death would be better. I can deal with everything except the nausea. I hate nausea.
     
  25. Aug 30, 2009 #24

    Moonbear

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    Re: Hangovers...

    If you rely on the "hair of the dog" remedy, consider that you may already be an alcoholic.

    Most hangover remedies focus on the headache. Yes, when I've had mild hangovers, it has mostly been headache. Then taking NSAIDs or drinking coffee helps...a little. As others pointed out, drinking lots of water before going to sleep or between drinks is better for that type of hangover. Actually, in addition to dehydration, low blood sugar is also an issue for hangover (which is probably why I don't ever get a hangover if I'm drinking those sweet fru-fru drinks, but do if I'm drinking beer or shots). That could also leave you feeling somewhat nauseous. Instead of just water, have a glass of orange juice, or some other juice.

    However, if your only problem is your stomach, and not headache, I doubt any remedies are really going to help. Maybe antacids would help a bit. You're probably damaging your stomach lining. You could also have an allergy to something you're drinking. Rare, but happens. Someone I know is allergic to something in beer. He can drink hard liquor and wine with no ill effects (as long as it's not to great excess), but cannot drink any beer...in his younger days, this actually led to a bleeding ulcer.

    I think it makes the most sense to just recognize that if you're getting hangovers, you're drinking too much, and to not drink that much. When you're younger, sometimes it's hard to know how to tell others you need to slow down. Alternating alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic beverages is one way to pace yourself...water, soft drinks or fruit juice are all good options (you can even tip the bartender nicely to put a swizzle stick in your juice and a garnish on the side so it looks like you have an alcoholic beverage if you hang out with an immature crowd who gives you a hard time over it). Or, if you just can't drink at all without ill effects, just volunteer to be the DD...everyone will be your friend and will completely understand if all you drink are soft drinks all night.
     
  26. Aug 30, 2009 #25
    Re: Hangovers...

    I always find my worst hangovers come when I drink double vodka with redbull. I always put it down to the vodka, but the other day whilst studying late at night I drank 4 cans of redbull and when I eventually went to sleep and woke the next day I had the same terrible hangover.
    Is it just me? Or do others find this? I have experimented with this a bit and find that unless I drink excessive amounts of a particular drink (vodka, lager, cider etc) I don't get hangovers. I get the same response from drinking just redbull. Too much and I get a worse hangover than if I drink 10 budweisers.
     
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