An shot of prevention is worth a 40-ouncer of cure
If you’re in college, the overwhelming odds are that you’re going to drink - a lot. That said, there’s no reason for you to have to suffer through a terrible hangover every time you want to knock back a few brews. If you have a basic understanding of the science behind hangovers, you can learn to minimize their debilitating effects.
What Causes Hangovers?
A number of factors combine in a sickening symmetry to cause a hangover. The alcohol you consume causes a stream of insulin to flow from your pancreas into your bloodstream. As a result, your blood sugar level is lowered, hypoglycemia sets in, and you become hot, sweaty and less alert than usual (in other words, you get drunk).
At the same time, your liver is producing enzymes to help break down the ethanol in your drinks. During the breakdown process, the ethanol spends time as a slightly toxic chemical, which your body isn’t too happy about. The result of this is a headache, sensitivity to light and noise, upset stomach and an overall lethargic demeanor (the scientific term for this is “sloshed”). To compound all of these problems, ethanol is a diuretic and dehydrates your body.
A Pre-Emptive Strike
There are a few things that you can do before and after drinking that will minimize the severity of your hangover. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Try these strategies:
- Eat before and after you drink. Go to the bar on a full stomach. After you leave, stop and grab a slice of pizza, a pita or some breakfast at an all-night waffle house.
- Hydrate yourself. Drink lots of water or sports drinks like Gatorade (which contains sugar and electrolytes that your body needs to replenish). Alternate between liquor and water while at the bar. Before you pass out, chug back a tall glass of water.
- Drink clear liquor. The darker your drink is, the greater the hangover it will cause (in most cases). White wine and vodka are less likely to cause a hangover than red wine and whiskey. This rule also applies to beer.
- Avoid cola, coffee, tea and energy drinks. Caffeine will cause your body to become more dehydrated and magnify the effects of the hangover.
- Don’t smoke. Cigarettes and marijuana decrease the amount of oxygen in your lungs, which will enhance your hangover.
If your pre-emptive strike fails and you wake up the next morning in the throes of the hangover to end all hangovers, we’ve got you covered. Read up on our surefire methods for recovering from a hangover.