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Hangover treatment

Information

A hangover is the unpleasant symptoms a person has after drinking too much alcohol.

Symptoms can include:

  • Headache and dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Depression, anxiety and irritability

Tips for preventing a hangover:

  • Drink slowly and on a full stomach. If you are a small person, the effects of alcohol are greater on you than on a larger person.
  • Drink in moderation. Women should have no more than 1 drink per day and men no more than 2 drinks per day. One drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 1/2 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
  • Drink a glass of water in between drinks containing alcohol. This will help you drink less alcohol, and decrease dehydration from drinking alcohol.
  • Avoid alcohol completely to prevent hangovers.

If you have a hangover, consider the following for relief:

  • Certain measures, such as fruit juice or honey, have been recommended to treat a hangover. But there is very little scientific evidence to show that such measures help. Recovery from a hangover is usually just a matter of time. Most hangovers are gone within 24 hours.
  • Electrolyte solutions (such as sports drinks) and bouillon soup are good for replacing the salt and potassium you lose from drinking alcohol.
  • Get plenty of rest. Even if you feel good the morning after heavy drinking, the lasting effects of alcohol reduce your ability to perform at your best.
  • Avoid taking any medicines for your hangover that contain acetaminophen (such as Tylenol). Acetaminophen may cause liver damage when combined with alcohol.

References

Finnell JT. Alcohol-related disease. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2014:chap 185.

O'Connor PG. Alcohol use disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 33.

 
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