The pounding headache, exhaustion and sickness the morning after a night of drinking and carousing signify a hangover. One may also feel depressed, anxious, irritable, experience muscle and joint pains and become sensitive to light.
Hangovers are no fun and may even last couple of days. They usually begin within several hours of the last drink, when blood alcohol level is dropping. Symptoms normally peak about the time alcohol level reaches zero, and may continue for an entire day.
Alcohol may cause:
# Dehydration leading to headache, dry mouth and electrolyte imbalance.
# Irritation of the stomach and intestines, contributing to pain and nausea.
# Hypoglycemia (fall in blood sugar levels) leading to lethargy and lack of energy, which could be serious for diabetics.
# Disturbed sleep patterns and biological rhythms contributing to fatigue.
# Irregular heart-beats (arrhythmia).
Factors that can worsen hangover:
# Congeners (toxic chemicals formed during fermentation) in most alcoholic beverages are widely responsible for headaches and vicious hangovers. For example, congener methanol.
# Use of drugs, especially nicotine through cigarette smoking.
# Personality traits such as neuroticism.
# Negative life events and feelings of guilt.
Research shows that gin and vodka, beverages that contain less of the biologically active compounds cause fewer headaches. Contrary to popular opinion, combination of different alcoholic beverages is unlikely to cause hangover except if you have consumed too much.
Handling the hangover?
# Drink plenty of water before going to bed. Fresh lime water, juices, coconut water, plain sodas can also be beneficial.
# Taking vitamin B6 or an extract from optunia ficus indica (a prickly pear cactus) before drinking may reduce the severity of hangover. A simple B vitamin supplement would do.
# Eating bland food that contain complex carbohydrates, such as toast and crackers, can combat low blood sugar and possibly nausea.
# Adequate rest and sleep can ease fatigue.
# Drinking non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages can alleviate depression. Contrary to popular belief caffeine can worsen symptom as it is a diuretic and increases urine production.
# Certain medications can also relieve some symptoms. Antacids, for example, may relieve nausea and stomach pains.
# Those who choose to drink alcoholic beverages should do so sensibly and in moderation – defined as the consumption of up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
# Alcoholic beverages should not be consumed by some individuals, including those who cannot restrict their alcohol intake, women of childbearing age who may become pregnant, pregnant and lactating women, children and adolescents, individuals taking medications that can interact with alcohol, and those with specific medical conditions.
# Alcoholic beverages should be avoided by individuals engaging in activities that require attention, skill, or coordination, such as driving or operating machinery.