Expert Advice on Avoiding the New Year’s Hangover

Two raw eggs in a glass of milk? A little “hair of the dog”? Vitamins and sports drinks? Wishful thinking! Experts says the only cure for a hangover is not getting drunk in the first place.

According to a recent article in the Healthland section of the Times, experts say the best advice for everyone is to drink less. “The only way to prevent a hangover is to not get drunk,” said Boston University researcher Jonathan Howland.

This solution, as unfriendly as it may seem to many celebrants, is the only 100% proven method. However, if you insist on imbibing liberally there are a few drinking strategies that can help make the next morning a little more comfortable:

  1. Don’t drink on an empty stomach.
    Sam Zakhari, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s metabolism and health effects division, cites this as the biggest warning when it comes to drinking. As the Times reports, “food helps absorb alcohol and delay its toxic effects on the body.”
  2. Do drink plenty of water.
    Alcohol can dehydrate the body. Alternating glasses of water between drinks can help you stay hydrated and also help combat the hangover aftershocks, many of which stem from dehydration.
  3. Don’t try to game the system.
    Fewer drinks are the only proven way to avoid a hangover. Some people mistakenly believe that choosing clear alcohol is safer, “because darker-colored drinks contain more compounds called congeners.” This theory is unproven.

Experts have yet to nail down what exactly causes hangovers, which makes preventing them somewhat challenging. Instead of helping, many commonly touted “remedies” are ineffective – or even dangerous.

For instance, some people swear by “the hair of the dog,” drinking more alcohol the next day – as a cure, but this “cure” just delays inevitable suffering. Worryingly, many drinkers think a coupe of Tylenol at night will help lessen symptoms the next morning. However, the risk of combining Tylenol (acetaminophen) and alcohol in the liver is permanent liver damage. (Of course, regular binge drinking can cause liver damage, so incorporating hangovers into your routine is not recommended.)

Instead of Tylenol, aspirin and ibuprofen are safer alternatives to treat hangover-related ills, and the best advice is to avoid Tylenol for a couple of days after drinking because even some healthy people may be vulnerable.

Aside from water and food, time is the only cure. If you are planning on drinking alcohol excessively make appropriate plans beforehand – call a cab instead of driving and call in sick if the next day is a workday.

Source: Healthland, “New Year’s Hangover Cure: Less Booze, More H20”

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