Hangover Cures: fact or fiction?

One of the consquences of drinking alcohol is going through the hangover the following day. One of the most popular cures for this is to sprinkle some salt into a glass of water; this helps keep the body hydrated and speeds up the process of getting your blood suger level back on track. (Cassandra Nguyen | The Colllegian)

When dinner with friends turns into a crazy night out, it can be followed by a really rough morning. Friends are always quick to offer their personal hangover remedies, but unfortunately a few of them are just old wives’ tales.

Luckily for us “responsible” college students, there are a few tricks we can use to lessen our pain.

What is a hangover?

According to Health.com, a hangover is the direct product of dehydration and poisonous side effects from alcohol’s toxins. These toxins, called congeners, are especially found in dark liquors such as whiskey.

“The dehydration does correlate to some, but doesn’t account for all of the hangover symptoms,” Chaz Mailey, coordinator of alcohol and other drug related services, said. “Another is that you have too much of the toxic byproduct of ethanol in your system known as acetaldehyde, and that this overabundance will lead you to feel like trash.”

Popular misconceptions

There are many fictitious tales regarding hangover cures. A Health.com article exploring hangover cure remedies listed several popular misconceptions for curing hangovers including drinking more alcohol the next day and eating greasy food. While these may seem like more appealing fixes, they might not be the most effective.

Eating a greasy meal before drinking may help ”soak up” the alcohol, but eating a greasy meal packed with carbohydrates when hungover can actually irritate your already sensitive stomach according to Jenny Yuen, health educator at Lafene Health Center.

Popular cures

According to advice website HowStuffWorks.com, drinking several glasses of water with a dash of both salt and sugar before bed after a long night out and when you wake up the following day can help the body deal with a hangover. The combination of water and salt helps the body stay hydrated, replaces lost electrolytes and gets blood sugar back on track.

According to Time.com, sports drinks like Gatorade can replenish missing electrolytes and restore your system levels. But another “super beverage” that may prove more effective for some is coconut water.

Best way to avoid hangovers

“Only time can heal a hangover,” Yuen said. “If a person can get rest by sleeping, that will be the way.”

Of course, the best way to avoid a hangover is to drink responsibly.

“If you are going to be drinking, knowing your limit is important,” Yuen said.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a branch of the National Institute of Health, a standard drink is any alcoholic beverage that contains approximately 14 grams of liquor. That said, everybody metabolizes alcohol differently.

“Try to keep your intake to a reasonable amount,” Mailey said. “So for women, trying to stay under three drinks and for men trying to keep that number around four (over a four hour period). Research has shown that you don’t really want to get above a (blood alcohol concentration) of .08, because at a BAC of .10, you’re more likely to experience hangover symptoms.”

It is easy to let hangovers alter our sleep schedule.

According to Healthline.com, alcohol disrupts sleep, particularly REM sleep, which the body needs to restore itself.

“My best advice is to drink sparingly to avoid hangovers,” Sarah Ellis, senior in family studies and human resources, said. “In my experience, getting plenty of rest the next day is also helpful.”

That said, if you have the luxury of “sleeping it off,” definitely do so. When it is time to open your eyes, keep yourself hydrated. This essential combo will help prevent and cure tomorrow morning’s hangover.