Primary Care Physician
Dr. Orrange received her BA in Biology at the University of California, San Diego, and a Masters Degree in Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. She received her MD from the USC Keck School of…
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Hangovers, and How to Make Them Go Away
Posted in Alcoholism by Dr. Sharon Orrange on Mar 06, 2013
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.

Who suffers?

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 what?

“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.

Fumbling

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.

Zzzz

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.

Aggravators

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).
Cheers!

- Dr. O

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I've found a sure fire cure for not having a hangover....making the choice to not drink almost guarantees no hangover the next day. I've studied this phenomena for 32 years and at 50 years old, am proud to announce this discovery.
By itsjustme8  Mar 10, 2013
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Are you kidding me??? This is posted to an ALCOHOLISM board? On how to reduce our hangovers?

The vast majority of those of us here need to follow a simple way to reduce the severity of hangovers. Not drink. We are not here because we occasionally "over indulge." We are here because we are destroying our lives and those around us by drinking.

How irresponsible for you, as a doctor, to not recognize this.
By ExJerseyGirl2  Mar 10, 2013
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