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The Truth About Hangovers

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You know the symptoms. Headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, stomach problems, drowsiness, sweating, excessive thirst, cognitive fuzziness, lost phone, and other related ailments. New Year’s Eve has come and gone and while (most) everyone was out dancing and drinking, just as many were nursing a hangover the next morning. Or afternoon.

What is a hangover? While everyone believes it's drinking a large amount of alcohol that causes dehydration, that is false. Studies examining the link between dehydration and hangovers have found no correlation between high levels of the hormones associated with dehydration and the severity of a hangover. It’s most likely that dehydration accounts for some of the symptoms of a hangover (dizziness, lightheadedness and thirst).

The truth is, scientists still don’t fully understand the causes of a hangover. But we know some things to avoid or lessen the severity of them.

Avoid drinking too fast and on an empty stomach. While it's a myth that food absorbs the alcohol, having a full digestive tract slows down the rate at which your body absorbs the alcohol. While dehydration is only a part of the pain, drinking water while drinking with friends can be a big help.

What about all those miracle cures we hear about like eating greasy food, drinking coffee, or strong green tea? Unfortunately, those look to be false. No evidence exists that prove those urban legends hold any power. No matter if your friend's friend knows a guy who swears it works.

“Hair of the dog”? It might dull your senses and make you think you're feeling better, studies have failed to show that this provides actual relief. That goes for Vitamin B and caffeine as well.

Pedialyte? It's not just for kids! The electrolyte-heavy formula has shown to work replenishing body fluids and minerals.

Wheatgrass? It contains a high level of of antioxidants to assist with the symptoms but the taste could aggravate the nausea that often accompanies a hangover.

While it's not a miracle knowledge, eat healthy food, drink water, and get lots of rest. Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as aspirin or ibuprofen and stomach relief medicines (Alka-Seltzer, Tums or Pepto-Bismol) to reduce nausea. Avoid acetaminophen (Tylenol) though.

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