What is a Hangover
A hangover is a collection of signs and symptoms linked to a recent bout of heavy drinking. The sufferer typically has a headache, feels sick, dizzy, sleepy, confused and thirsty.
As Wired points out, scientists have found that, in general, the levels of electrolytes (minerals in our bodily fluids) aren’t significantly different between controls and people with hangovers, and even if they have spotted differences, they didn’t seem to correlate with the severity of the hangover. Furthermore, other studies have found no links between hormones associated with dehydration and hangover severity.
So, dehydration probably isn’t responsible for the majority of your hangover, but it might give you a banging headache. These are an unfortunate by-product of your body attempting to restore fluid levels. Your blood vessels narrow, restricting the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, which then tries to compensate by dilating its blood vessels, which can cause swelling. Although the brain itself can’t feel pain, the discomfort may result from pain receptors in the lining that surrounds our brain.
There are other factors that affect who experiences hangovers most readily. After having the same number of drinks, women are more likely to experience hangovers than men, though this simply seems to be a result of the fact that women generally have a lower body weight as well: If you control for body weight and compare a man and woman with the same blood alcohol content, their chances of a hangover are similar.
There's conflicting evidence over whether hangovers become more frequent with age. Some studies have suggested [PDF] that adolescents are less likely to experience hangovers, but a recent large-scale survey showed the opposite—that, even controlling for total alcohol consumption, drinkers over the age of 40 experienced fewer and less severe symptoms. The authors noted that it's possible, though, that they consume the same amount of alcohol but with less intensity, spreading their drinks out instead of binging.
How can you cure a hangover?
- As well as water, drink fresh juice to give yourself a vitamin boost. If you really need it, take a painkiller and an antacid to settle your stomach and alleviate hangover symptoms. Try a rehydration treatment sachet – they replace lost minerals and salt.
- Eat something - bananas and kiwis are examples of food you can eat to help cure a hangover as they are a a good source of potassium (a mineral you lose when you drink because of the diuretic effect of alcohol).
- Avoid hair of the dog – it only delays the problem. Take a break from alcohol.