9 Minutes

Edited & medically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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From stomach pain to pounding headaches, irritability, and fatigue, many people are too familiar with the long list of hangover symptoms that often appear after a night of binge drinking. While there are many purported cures for these hangovers, such as rubbing a lemon in armpits or chugging some pickle juice, only a few are based on facts.

This article will discuss the actual science-backed remedies that genuinely work to get rid of a hangover and limit or prevent it in the future.

Hangovers refer to unpleasant physical and mental symptoms that appear once the high levels of alcohol in the blood begin to decline. These symptoms commonly include:

  • Thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nausea and diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jitteriness

The symptoms mentioned above occur primarily due to ethanol, a naturally occurring chemical in alcohol that makes users drunk. The more ethanol one consumes, the higher their blood alcohol concentration gets and the worse their hangover will likely be.

The intensity of hangover symptoms depends on how quickly the body breaks down ethanol and clears it from the system. The faster this breakdown occurs, the lesser the chance of experiencing a hangover. For some people, this rate of ethanol breakdown is determined by genes that code for two necessary enzymes. These enzymes, aldehyde dehydrogenase and alcohol dehydrogenase, are responsible for breaking down alcohol in the body. A person genetically lacking them may experience more severe hangovers than the rest.

Irrespective of what triggers a hangover, it is possible to learn how to cure a hangover in simple and effective ways and prevent it in the future.

Mentioned below are some tips to cure hangover fast.

Drink Fluids

Alcohol is a natural diuretic that promotes urination by inhibiting vasopressin, a hormone responsible for reabsorbing water from urine. As a result, individuals who have binged on alcohol are likely to get dehydrated soon after, especially if they simultaneously develop other symptoms of a hangover, such as vomiting, sweating, and diarrhoea. A quick hangover cure, in these circumstances, is to drink plenty of fluids.

Even though nausea can make getting anything down the throat challenging, even a few sips of water may help.

Consume Carbohydrates

Drinking alcohol can lower blood sugar levels, and experts speculate that some of its hangover symptoms, such as headaches and fatigue, might be because of a lack enough fuel for the brain. Moreover, many people often forget to eat while drinking, which lowers their blood sugar. So make sure to provide your brain with instant carbohydrates to refuel it. A glass of juice with toast is the best food to nudge these carb levels back to normal gently.

Avoid Drinking Alcohol with Darker Hues

Studies have revealed that clear liquors, like vodka and gin, are less likely to cause hangovers than darker ones, like red wine, tequila, and whiskey. This is because the latter is rich in ethanol and contains congeners (for example, methanol) that further intensify the effects of a hangover. Even though the same enzymes process both methanol and ethanol, the byproducts released during the breakdown of the former are particularly toxic and may worsen a hangover.

Pop in a Pain Killer

Ibuprofen, aspirin, and other types of NSAIDs can be the best treatment for a hangover as they cure the headache and eliminate the overall achy feeling. However, observe precautions while using these painkillers and do not overdose as they can irritate a stomach. Remember not to take acetaminophen, especially when alcohol is already lingering in your body, as it may accentuate the medicine’s toxic effects on the liver.

Make Yourself a Healthy Breakfast

While bland foods like crackers and toast can quickly boost sugar levels and relieve other hangover symptoms, there are many other foods to try, especially as breakfast following a night of heavy drinking.

A potential “reverse hangover’ breakfast can include one or more of the following items:

  • Eggs for restoring the glutathione stores in the body that alcohol often depletes
  • Pickles for replenishing electrolytes, such as sodium
  • Nuts for restoring the levels of magnesium in the body cells
  • Oranges for getting enough vitamin C to make antioxidants (such as glutathione)
  • Bananas and avocados for replenishing the potassium levels lost due to excessive drinking
  • Salmon for easing the effects of a hangover by reducing the synthesis of pro-inflammatory compounds
  • Ginger as an effective hangover nausea cure
  • Coffee for energising the body and improve mental alertness

Drink Tea or Coffee

While caffeine may not be the best thing for a hangover, it can help with grogginess and mental fog due to its stimulating properties.

Take Zinc and B Vitamins

Recent studies have revealed that people who eat foods particularly rich in B vitamin and zinc tend to develop less severe hangovers than those who eat average foods.

While there are many ways to avoid the uncomfortable symptoms associated with a hangover, the best way to do so is by practising abstinence. Even the best hangover cure may not be as effective as simply preventing drinking. However, if one still chooses to drink, remember the following tips to keep a hangover at bay:

Drink within safe limits.

The best way to ensure that you do not encounter a hangover is by simply checking how much you drink. The more you drink, the greater the chances of a hangover. The safe limit for men is no more than two drinks per day; for women, it goes down to one drink per day. Make sure to avoid certain activities, such as drinking rounds, to control your alcohol intake.

Remember the tolerance level.

Tolerance refers to how much alcohol a person can drink without developing symptoms, and it varies from person to person. Do not drink any more than you can tolerate, and stop immediately as soon as the symptoms of intoxication start setting in.

Avoid drinking on an empty stomach.

When you have food in your stomach, it slows down the absorption of alcohol and lessens the severity of a consequent hangover. Hence, eating foods rich in carbohydrates and fats is a good idea before going for a drink.

Drink slowly.

Drinking alcohol can make you consume it in excessive amounts. Moreover, it also increases the risk of an overdose, possibly leading to alcohol poisoning.

Alternate alcohol with a non-alcoholic drink.

Sipping on some non-alcoholic beverage in between drinking alcohol keeps the body well-hydrated. Moreover, it also ensures that you do not exceed the safe limit. The best non-alcoholic beverage to sip on in between your drinking rounds is a non-carbonated, non-fizzy one that does not speed up the absorption of alcohol in the body.

Drink water before going to bed.

Following this remedy keeps the body hydrated and stops many symptoms of a hangover from occurring the following morning. Keep a glass of water nearby to drink whenever you wake up.

Avoid smoking

Smoking not only negatively affects the hydration level but also lowers the sleep quality and weakens the immune system, all of which, in turn, worsen hangovers.

If you or a loved one often struggles with alcohol hangovers, it might indicate underlying alcohol abuse or addiction. Alcohol addiction, also known as alcohol use disorder, does not only affect the person drinking; it can also negatively impact their families. Watching a family member or a friend struggling with a drinking problem can be extremely frustrating and heartbreakingly painful. They may also be disrupting family life by ignoring responsibilities, facing financial problems, and getting into legal difficulties. Your or your loved one’s addiction can be so overwhelming that it may seem easier to ignore it. However, in the long run, denying it as a problem can bring more harm to you, your loved one and the rest of the family.

It is important to keep in mind that you are not alone in this struggle. Alcoholism affects millions of people worldwide, and help is available for all. The best treatment option for your loved one depends on their problem’s severity, the stability of their current living situation, and any co-occurring conditions they may be facing. 

Primary Care Doctor

Your loved one’s primary care doctor is often the first one to seek help from. They can assess their overall health, evaluate their drinking patterns, and rule out any co-occurring disorders to devise a suitable treatment plan. If needed, they can make a referral to a suitable rehab centre specialising in treating alcohol dependence.

12-Step Programme

The 12-Step programme is one of the most common and effective treatment options for alcohol abuse. Similarly, support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous can also help your loved one spend time with others facing similar issues and overcome their problems together.

Behavioural Treatments

Behavioural interventions, including individual, family, and group therapy sessions, are also offered at most rehabs to help your loved ones identify the root cause of their alcohol use and overcome it. These therapies also allow them to mend broken relationships, develop tools to manage their drinking problem and tackle common triggers that may lead to relapses.

Residential Treatment

Some rehabs offer residential programs if your loved one’s addiction is too intense to be treated at home. As a part of the programme, clients reside at a special facility for up to 90 days and receive treatments, including therapy, medication, and detox, as deemed necessary by experts.



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