Hangovers: payback for overindulgence. With spring break coming (and we all know what that means), learn as much as you can about the hangover. A hangover from alcohol is characterized by a general misery that may last more than 24 hours even after your blood alcohol concentration is zero. You are not alone if you feel like a slacker at work the next day, the average annual cost due to hangover and decreased productivity is $2,000.00 per working adult.
Let’s talk about what you need to know about the alcohol hangover.
What ails you?
A real hangover has to include at least two of these symptoms: headache, poor sense of well-being, diarrhea, loss of appetite, tremulousness, fatigue, or nausea.
Light to moderate drinkers are more likely to experience a hangover than heavier drinkers. In fact, 87% of alcohol-related problems in the workplace are caused by light-to-moderate drinkers. You are just not use to it, approximately 5-6 drinks in an 80kg man and 3-5 in a 60 kg woman will almost always lead to hangover.
“Veisalgia” is the very cool medical term for hangover coming from the Norwegian kveis, or “uneasiness following debauchery,” and the Greek algia, or “pain”.
Dark and stormy
Dark liquors (red wine, brandy, whiskey, bourbon, etc.) give you worse hangovers than clear liquors. Dark liquors contain congeners which give those drinks their flavor and color. A hangover will be worse for the same amount of whiskey as compared to vodka. More congeners=more hangover.
Orange you glad I saved you
Mixing pure alcohol with orange juice can prevent the presence of congeners thus lowering your risk of hangover.
You will have diminished visual-spatial skills and dexterity even after alcohol can no longer be detected in your blood. Job performance the following day is affected and skiers, drivers, and pilots, watch out.
Sleep deprivation and quality affect your hangover. In fact, some studies show hangover is related to sleep duration and quality and not amount of alcohol consumed. There may be something to that “sleeping it off” adage.
Factors known to worsen your hangover are: lack of food consumption, increased physical activity while drinking, smoking, health status, genetics, and oh those bloody congeners again.
It’s about the water…
Why do you get a hangover? The leading theory is that alcohol inhibits the effect of ADH (antidiuretic hormone) on the kidneys thereby inducing more water loss. As blood alcohol concentration decreases and dehydration persists, the ADH level increases which causes water retention in dehydrated patients with hangover. Hydration will help, but not completely relieve hangover symptoms.
An ounce of prevention
There are wives tales and then there are meds that have been studied and shown to lessen the severity of your hangover. Know these:
- Liv.52 (an herbal supplement available over the counter.)
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NDSAIDS) like ibuprofen.
- and vitamin B6 (400 mg when you start drinking, 400 mg three hours later, and 400 mg at the end of the night).
- Dr. O
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