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Physiology of a Hangover and Cures for Hangovers

Beyond Moderation: The Hangover

It happens to us all at some time or another, but with an expected frequency on New Year's Eve. We drink too much, and then we pay for it the next day. Are you hung up by your hangover?

Well, let me explain what is going on with your body and help you figure out ways to deal with the problems at hand.


Symptom: Dehydration
Your throat and mouth are dry due to dehydration, which is caused by the diuretic properties of alcohol. The dehydration also affects your muscles making them feel weak.
Cure: Drink plenty of water, all day long!

Symptom: Sour Stomach
The excessive alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach causing nausea and sour stomach. The inflammation delays digestion, which in turn, contributes to the feelings of nausea.
Cure: Take some Alka Seltzer or eat some mild foods.

Symptom: Irritability
Your liver gets backed up trying to metabolize all the alcohol so you might be experiencing symptoms of hypoglycemia (that's a fancy term for low blood sugar), meaning you are highly irritable and moody.
Cure: Eat some food and drink some juice.

Symptom: Jangled Nerves
Your central nervous system becomes chemically over excited causing sensitivity to light, sound and touch.
Cure: Rest with an eye pillow and soothing music.

Symptom: Headache
Blood vessels in the brain dilate and that is what is causing that throbbing headache, which is only exacerbated by your dehydration mentioned above.
Cure: Take some OTC (over the counter) pain medication.

Sleepy and Sleepless: Your pituitary gland becomes confused and releases the wrong amounts of the hormones that regulate sleep. So while you may want to sleep it off, your sleep pattern is severely disrupted.
Cure: Try some Sleepytime Extra Tea fortified with Valerian root to help you sleep.

The only real cure for a hangover is time. Physical activity can help, too. Take a walk or jog and sweat a bit to help get the alcohol out of your blood. Fear not, the after effects of your partying should only linger for about 24 hours. Tomorrow is another day.

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