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There is no proven, effective way for getting over the ‘hangover’ which is characterised by splitting headache, loss of appetite and feeling of throwing up in the morning after a heavy drinking. A number of remedies have been touted both in the modern as well as indigenous systems of medicine for treating hangover.
The best treatment is indeed to avoid getting into that state, for which it is necessary to discipline your drinking. This includes eating well before and during drinking, taking plenty of water in between drinks, drinking slowly and keeping your drinks well diluted with water or soda.
Apart from these, you can also try drinking light colored drinks like white wine, gin, vodka and light beer instead of dark colored drinks like whiskey, rum, red wines and dark beer and finally why not drink a non-alcoholic beverage rather than an alcoholic one.
If however, you are not able to resist over drinking and do end up with a hangover next morning, here are a few things you could do to recover soon.
Drink plenty of water and refreshing drinks that will clean your system
1. Consume liquids: Drink plenty of water, sweet drinks, sports drinks, coconut water and fruit juices to hydrate yourself well and also in simple terms to ‘dilute’ the alcohol in the body. Ginger liquids like ginger tea or flat ginger ale have been suggested to be particularly helpful in settling the stomach and mitigating the nausea of the hangover.
Add light food in your diet to get over a hangover
2. Eat light: It has been suggested that greasy food like bacon, omlette or fried chips may help, but that is totally incorrect. In fact, it is preferable to eat light and take easy-to-digest foods such as toast, cereals, honey and sweets that readily get calories back into your system. Consuming fruits like apples and bananas also help soothe your stomach. If you took a multivitamin to restore the nutrients your body may have lost during the binge, eating light may further help.
Take medication if you have persistent headaches
3. Take medication: If you are suffering from splitting headache, avoid loud noises and bright light and take ibuprofen or aspirin, although the latter may aggravate a bit the burning sensation in the belly. Taking an antacid or any preparation containing sodium bicarbonate (also known as baking soda) may help settle a queasy belly by neutralizing stomach acid.
Coffee is not your best friend after a hangover
4. Avoid drinking coffee: Coffee has been touted as an antidote for adverse effect of alcohol but that is incorrect. Caffeine actually narrows your blood vessels and boosts blood pressure, both of which may make the hangover worse. If however, you are a regular coffee drinker, missing out your morning cup of coffee may give you another reason for headache and hence you should take a small amount of coffee and see the effect; it may benefit you.
A hot shower is a cool idea to get rid of the hangover
5. Hot shower therapy: Take a good hot shower or bath. While this will not speed up expulsion of alcohol from your body, it will make you feel better and fresher. Breathe in the steam to alleviate your headache.
Finally, if you can afford to call off that day and ‘sleep it off’ the morning, that’s great. Your foggy brain and achy body will thank you. Natural healing will ensue over time.
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Dr. Rakesh Tandon is a gastroenterologist and practices as the Medical Director and Head of Gastroenterology at Pushpawati Singhania Research Institute in Delhi. He is an MBBS, MD - Medicine and Ph. D - Gastrointestinal Surgery.