How not to Get a Hangover …

Hangover 101: what you need to know.

We refer to the set of symptoms that occur as a consequence of drinking too much alcohol, it is the body’s way of reminding us about the dangers of excess.

Hangovers and substance abuse

Most adults in South Africa have had the misfortune of a hangover at one stage or another in their lives. Maybe it was at varsity, or a big party for your 21st,, a wedding, or even a braai watching the Boks take on a team from up North…
Although many have had them, a lot of adults don’t actually understand the mechanics and science behind hangovers. Perhaps a study into the inner workings of the dreaded hangover may offer a new look into it and therefore, a new way of thinking if it’s the best thing to do to our bodies…
Houghton House takes a look at the issues!

What are they Exactly?

The term ‘hangover’ refers to the physical and mental after-effects that take place to us after we consume alcohol. The big ingredient that causes a hangover is called ethanol, and it’s the same thing that makes a person drunk. It travels through our blood causing a number of issues. No two people will necessarily have the same type of experience at the same time, but there are general symptoms which characterise hangovers.

Hangovers and substance abuse

So what are these hangover symptoms?

Dizziness, anxiety, excessive thirst, sore muscles, fatigue, gastrointestinal distress, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and pounding headaches.

These symptoms can appear all at once, or in sets, and can vary in intensity and duration. The one thing to note about these symptoms is that none of them is pleasant. Examining the history of your hangovers may reveal that you could positively benefit from reassessing your relationship with alcohol.

What are the things that contribute?

Mood, other simultaneous drug use, genetics, hydration and congeners (tannins, methanol etc) are all contributors to the problem. Noting these can assist in how you deal with your intake, and ultimately reduce, or exacerbate your hangover.

What’s the magic number that leads to a hangover?

There is no clear answer, unfortunately. Technically, even a single glass of wine or a beer could cause a hangover if your body doesn’t process it correctly.  The calculation really is the more you drink, the worse the hangover will become.

When Does a Hangover Start? How Long Does the Hangover Last? 

Hangovers only really begin appearing after you complete drinking. There is a gap between the end of the drinking and the kick-in of a hangover, but once again, the timing around that is not an exact science. Most estimations would suggest that anywhere from 2/4 hours after drinking, the hangover begins. This is a result of your body’s blood/alcohol level having to reduce down, and that is the rough time for it to take place. This again however is a guide and not an exact science. Unfortunately the problem however doesnt usually resolve itself!

Unfortunately, hangover symptoms don’t always resolve quickly. Some people can experience a hangover for as long as 14 hours, while others merely sleep through most of the early stages. There are psychological ramifications that include anxiety, shame and guilt and they can often last as long ( and sometimes longer) than the physical ones.

How to ease the effects of a hangover:

The best way to avoid a hangover is to not get one. Sobriety harbours no hangovers. However, should you indulge in alcohol, and understand all the risks, effects and repercussions, we advise the following to reduce the symptoms:

Drink in moderation, rehydrate yourself, eat something, rest and de-stress.  Watch your intake, and remember, you have one body, use it wisely!

No information on this site should be used as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor or a qualified clinician.

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