A hangover headache is caused when your brain becomes dehydrated, the nausea and vomiting are a combination of alcohol's effect on the stomach and the central nervous system and the fatigue and general lousy-feeling are caused by alcohol's depressant effect and build-up of acids in the blood. Hangovers are also attributed to the toxic effect of fusel alcohols, which are by-products of yeast metabolism during fermentation. Beer generally has very low levels of fusels (typically referred to as congeners), but distilled spirits have much higher levels.
The best way to avoid a hangover is prevention. Drink responsibly and try some of the following preventative techniques:
• have a substantial meal before or during drinking, that includes fatty foods, milk or cheese and bread
• drink water while drinking
• take a multi-vitamin before drinking
• before drinking, eat anything with high levels of fructose in it (fruit or honey), supposedly this helps metabolize alcohol
• a dose of thiamine (B complex) at least an hour before drinking, helps to break down alcohol in the blood
• know your alcohol limit and abide by it
• pace yourself
• avoid carbonated drinks, they speed up intoxication and heighten hangovers
• don't mix alcohols, i.e. scotch and beer in the same night
Myths: There are hundreds of so-called "cures" for hangovers, and most are myths. There is not an existing, medically proven way to get rid of a hangover, except time and rest. Here are some common myths dispelled: 1) Aspirin will relieve a headache but it will not decrease the amount of alcohol in your system. 2) Food will not help your body "absorb" the alcohol any faster. 3) Coffee will only make you a more awake hungover person. 4) Exercise will help you get your mind off your misery, but it will not help your body metabolize the alcohol any faster (approximately 1/3 oz. per hour). 5) Vitamins, after the fact, will not help your body recover from a hangover.
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