Got a Hangover?

Don’t believe these myths.

You may have had one drink or five, but all you know is it was one drink too many. Waking up the next morning with a pounding headache, insatiable thirst, a yucky stomach, dizziness, shakiness, and a sensitivity to light are clear signs you had too many alcoholic drinks the night before. How are you ever going to face the day with a hangover?

While your friends give you plenty of advice on how to prevent or treat a hangover, what truly works and what’s mere hearsay? Get the facts here.

Myth #1: Take Acetaminophen before Bed

Don’t ever heed this advice. First, acetaminophen before bed won’t do a thing to prevent unpleasant symptoms in the morning. Second, taking acetaminophen with alcohol can be dangerous. Your liver is the organ that processes painkillers, but it’s also responsible for metabolizing alcohol. The combination can cause liver inflammation and liver damage.

Your best bet is to wake up an hour early and take ibuprofen. When it’s time to get up, the medicine will have had time to take effect.

Myth #2: Eat before Bed

Eating food after you drink won’t do much good. It’s better to eat before you drink if you want to help prevent a hangover. Having food in your stomach slows the rate at which alcohol reaches your bloodstream. As it turns out, eating fatty foods prior to or while drinking will do you the most good because they take longest to digest.

Myth #3: Wine’s Gentler than Beer or Liquor

While wine in moderation may be good for you heart and lessen your risk of osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s, it’s more likely to give you a hangover than beer. This is because wine contains compounds called tannins that trigger headaches.

Some people are also prone to headaches after drinking hard liquor.
Also, don’t think that by drinking a diet cocktail you’re less likely to develop a hangover. Quite the opposite is true. A drink with fewer calories reaches your bloodstream faster, making you drunker in a shorter amount of time.

Myth #4: Tolerance Depends on Your Weight

Just because you weigh the same as someone else doesn’t mean you can tolerate as much alcohol as he or she can. In addition, even if a woman weighs as much as a man, the man can tolerate more alcohol. This is because men have more water in their bodies and can therefore dilute more alcohol. Men also produce more of the enzyme that metabolizes alcohol. Women, on the other hand, generally have more body fat and fat doesn’t absorb alcohol.

Myth #5: Drink Coffee and Take a Cold Shower

A jolt of caffeine and a cold shower may help you wake up, but they do nothing to take away your unpleasant symptoms. The plain fact is that your hangover won’t go away until alcohol is out of your system. Coffee may actually make your hangover worse. Drinking a lot of alcohol can dehydrate you because it makes you urinate more, and coffee does the same thing, and you don’t want to lose more fluid if you’ve been vomiting. You’d do better to drink water or a sports drink before bed and in the morning to prevent dehydration and lessen your symptoms of thirst, lightheadedness, and dizziness.

Myth #6: “Beer Before Liquor, Never Sicker”

The order or combination of the alcoholic beverages you consume has nothing to do with the likelihood or severity of a hangover. It is true that consuming drinks with a higher percentage of alcohol lowers your inhibitions, leads to heavier drinking, and increases your chances of a hangover, so you may want to stick to beer and cut yourself off after a drink or two.