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Hangover treatment

Information

A hangover is the unpleasant symptoms a person has after drinking too much alcohol.
Symptoms can include:

  • Headache and dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Depression, anxiety and irritability

Tips for preventing a hangover:

  • Drink slowly and on a full stomach. If you are a small person, the effects of alcohol are greater on you than on a larger person.
  • Drink in moderation. Women should have no more than 1 drink per day and men no more than 2 drinks per day. One drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 1/2 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
  • Drink a glass of water in between drinks containing alcohol. This will help you drink less alcohol, and decrease dehydration from drinking alcohol.
  • Avoid alcohol completely to prevent hangovers.

If you have a hangover, consider the following for relief:

  • Certain measures, such as fruit juice or honey, have been recommended to treat a hangover. But there is very little scientific evidence to show that such measures help. Recovery from a hangover is usually just a matter of time. Most hangovers are gone within 24 hours.
  • Electrolyte solutions (sports drinks) and bouillon soup are good for replacing the salt and potassium you lose from drinking alcohol.
  • Get plenty of rest. Even if you feel good the morning after heavy drinking, the lasting effects of alcohol reduce your ability to perform at your best.
  • Avoid taking any medications for your hangover that contain acetaminophen (such as Tylenol). Acetaminophen  may cause liver damage when combined with alcohol.

References

O'Connor PG. Alcohol abuse and dependence. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman’s Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 32.

Verster JC, Penning R. Treatment and prevention of alcohol hangover. Curr Drug Abuse Rev. 2010;3:103-109.

Updated: 4/18/2013

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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