Read this before you get a Halloween hangover

Maybe you're all about the party right now - and that's understandable.  Have a great time. Eat, drink and definitely be merry.  But as the mother around here, I'm all about the day after.  No judging, just information - on how to avoid, and deal with, a Halloween hangover.  

Halloween hangover, candy, alcohol, drinking party

There are plenty of hangover cures on-line. I googled "hangover cure" and got 2.170 million results in 0.14 seconds; the yield for "hangover remedy" was even better - 3.070 results in 0.13 seconds.  I looked through a few dozen of those entries.  Most of it is nonsense - or worse.  

Of course, it's fun to find out that Hunter S. Thompson's cure was "12 amyl nitrites" (one box) in conjunction with as many beers as is necessary."  Hangover foods worldwide vary from greasy, fatty, salty eggs and bacon in the U.S. to pickle juice tipped out of the jar in Russia to a Korean soup that includes cow bones, pork spine and coagulated ox blood. 

I asked readers and friends what they do.  My favorite response was from Nathan, who said: "Water or coconut water the night before.  Exercise in the am.  Any food involving bacon the next day."  His regime isn't half bad - with a few tweaks he's got a good start on hangover prevention and mitigation.  (Mitigation= Fancy word for "God, please make my head hurt less and while you're at it, can you please make the room stop spinning?")

Here are tips that really can help to avoid a hangover

  • Eat a substantial meal before drinking.  The food slows the absorption of alcohol and can lessen the intensity of a hangover.
  • Drink slowly and alternate alcohol with water or other non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated drinks.  This will avoid dehydration and give your body time to absorb the alcohol with as few negative effects as possible. 
  • Stay with one type of alcohol.  Mixing beer, wine and/or hard liquor of various types increases the headaches and nausea of a hangover.
  • Stick with lighter colored alcohol.  The darker the alcohol, the more potential for hangover.  Although the scientific research is not complete here, it makes sense - and fits in with the experience of many who find that red wine tends to produce more of a hangover than white.  It also looks as though dark rum and bourbon are more hangover-producing than gin and vodka.
  • The less you drink, the less your chances of getting a hangover.  Duh! 

And tips for dealing with a hangover 

  • Time.  The best and only sure-fire way to treat a hangover is to give it time.
  • Drink water to battle dehydration and non-caffeinated sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade to  replace the electrolytes, salt and potassium lost through dehydration.  
hangover - powerade.jpg
  • If you can bear the thought of food, eat foods that replace lost salt and potassium, and protein-rich foods and complex carbohydrates like eggs and whole grain toast. 
  • Don't do anything dangerous while you have a hangover. 

Don't take a cold shower (further decreases body temperature and the potential for slipping in the shower and hurting yourself - need I say more?). 

Don't take any headache medication with acetaminophen like Tylenol - it can interact with the alcohol and harm your liver.) 

Don't drink caffeine-laden energy drinks or more alcohol. (See myths below.)

Finally, let's bust a few hangover remedy/cure myths

  • Vitamin B.  There is no scientifically accepted evidence that taking huge amounts of vitamin B cures a hangover. 
  • Exercise after drinking.  It makes sense to stay awake (without caffeine) until the effects of the hangover have begun to subside, but there is no evidence that you can exercise a hangover away. 
  • Eating foods containing fructose (fruit juice or honey.)  Again, there is just no scientific evidence that this helps. 
  • Hair of the dog.  Come now. Does drinking more to cure drinking too much (or getting revved up on caffeine when your head feels like it is going to explode) really sound like a good idea to you?

If you partied during the weekend and are reading this in the midst of your hangover - or afterwards, there is always next year.  Plus, if you can remember that you read this, you can reread it before all those December holiday parties and avoid some nasty headaches a few weeks from now. 

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