It’s All In Your Head

Ah, hangovers! They’re almost synonymous with the holidays, aren’t they? With eggnog and other lovely “adult” beverages available to us over the holidays, many of us find ourselves waking up the next morning with the tell-tale headache that signifies a hangover.

But what the hell is an actual hangover? Most people assume it’s simply a headache associated with too much drinking; and they would be PARTIALY right. But there’s a lot more to it than that.

A hangover is actually a grouping of symptoms caused by over drinking. Contrary to popular opinion, they can happen anytime during the day and are not limited to first thing when waking up. The symptoms can include but are not limited to:

  • Headaches and dizziness;
  • Dehydration and thirst;
  • Stomach aches;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Diarrhea; and
  • Fatigue and exhaustion.

There are many more, but people often don’t recognize them as they usually sleep through a number of them. The good news, is that hangovers generally tend to go away within one day. You normally don’t have all that long to suffer.

So, what can one do to prevent a hangover? The most obvious answer is to abstain from the consumption of alcohol. Or at the very least, drink in moderation. But the reality is that there is no cure for a hangover. Yes, you read that right! THERE IS NO CURE FOR A HANGOVER! Despite what some over-the-counter medications may have suggested, there is no magic pill to make it all go away. But there are some things you can do to alleviate symptoms:

  1. Drink plenty of fluids: Not the alcoholic ones! Get lots of water in your system to replace the fluids you’ve lost through dehydration, which could also be the cause of the stomach aches, nausea and diarrhea;
  2. Have a cup of java: Caffeine is a natural stimulant and may help alleviate some of the dizziness and grogginess associated with the hangover. Caffeine can also cause further dehydration, so be mindful with this one;
  3. Have some food: No, it isn’t to soak up excess alcohol in your stomach; that’s a myth! The booze will mine its way into your system regardless of the spicy donair you mixed it with at 3 am. But having something to eat may help to regulate blood sugar levels (even in non-Diabetics) and help to alleviate the headaches and fatigue;
  4. Sleep through it: This one has to be my favourite. If you are able to stay in bed and sleep it off, this is the natural and easiest way to get through it. Keep a glass of water on your bedside table to stave off thirst and dehydration and snooze away;
  5. Don’t take Tylenol: Sure, some painkillers can help with the pain, but stick to Ibuprofen or aspirin. Acetaminophen can have adverse effects on the liver, especially if there are still lingering traces of alcohol in your system;
  6. Don’t be a chump: Some people have heard that having a morning eye-opener or “hair of the dog”, as it’s sometimes called, can help alleviate hangover symptoms. If you drink while hungover, all you’re doing is prolonging the process of getting past it. There is NO evidence that having those two or three drinks actually help. Quit while you’re ahead, limit how much you consume and politely decline further drinks, even if you’re in a social setting.

It goes without saying that all the symptoms described above can be worsened or aggravated if you happen to have Type-1 Diabetes. I’ve written recent posts on the effects of alcohol for Diabetics, so I won’t regurgitate the same stuff over and over, but be certain to check your blood sugar often and stay on top of it.

Ultimately, moderation is key. But one needs to remember that hangover symptoms shouldn’t last more than 24 hours. If they do, it could be a sign of an aggravated medical condition or worse. If symptoms persist beyond a full day, it may be time to visit your doctor. ☯

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I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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