The body reacts to large quantities of alcohol in several ways, although this usually takes several hours. The lining of the stomach and lower parts of the digestive system are irritated; the body is dehydrated while the level of alcohol in the blood stream exceeds the livers ability to process it; and the nervous system is shocked and needs time to recover.
Symptoms and what to do
Symptoms include headache, nausea, stomach-ache and cramps, vomiting, dizziness, and irritability. This is the twilight world of the hangover. We’ve all been there: stumbled into a cab… staggered on to a bus… rolled into bed… and fallen into a nauseous sweaty sleep.
The next day you wake up with a throbbing headache, a furry tongue, a mouth which tastes… interesting, and breath you could bottle and sell as paint stripper. The best cure is not to have got in to this sorry state in the first place. When you get a hangover you have in effect poisoned the body – albeit temporarily – and it needs time to recover. However, there are practical steps you can take to ease symptoms and aid recovery:
- Drink as much water as you reasonably can throughout the day. This rehydrates the body and helps you to piss out the toxins.
- Drinking other liquids can help the body re-hydrate, tea and coffee which contains caffeine will stimulate the nervous system but are also dehydrating. Sugar can be taken to provide energy. Fruit juices, honey and a vitamin C are also known to help and fizzy drinks may have a soothing effect upon the stomach.
- Drag your sorry arse out of bed, take a shower or bath. Take a walk to get the blood circulation going. This will help provide fresh supplies of oxygen and sugar to the brain and stimulate endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.
- Settle down in front of the TV or a video and relax.
- The stomach can be relieved by something to eat but anything fatty or rich may make you feel nauseous.
- Aspirin or other pain relievers should only be taken after you have eaten something. Your body will be further irritated if they are taken on an empty stomach.
The hair of the dog
Another alcoholic drink, sometimes referred to as the hair of the dog, will kick start the nervous system and can make you feel better… for a while. BUT this only postpones the original hangover with a second one hot on the heels of the first.
England failing to tackle alcohol 'epidemic', say researchers | BBC | 30 Jul 2019
How to cure a hangover: what one man found after a 10-year quest | The Guardian | 23 Nov 2018
The 7 best hangover cures (backed by science) | Healthline | 11 Aug 2017
Drinking water doesn't prevent a hangover, study says | BBC | 25 Aug 2015