Hangovers: is there a cure?
We have all had hangovers. It is the price we pay for a night of drinking, but does a cure for the morning after the night before exist? Or are we destined to sit and wallow in the consequences?
We will be looking at the stages of a hangover and if we can do anything to stop it or, at the very least, make it more bearable.
What makes a hangover a hangover?
Many factors help make a hangover. First, let us run through the main ingredients that bring us to say, ‘I am never going drink again!’
Dehydration occurs when our bodies do not have sufficient fluid to function effectively, causing headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the body, especially when a person consumes it in large quantities. What happens to our bodies when we drink alcohol?
Here comes the science bit. The amount of water in our blood is kept under regulation by ADH. When we have alcohol in our system, it acts as a suppressive to this hormone, making us produce more urine than we usually would, leaving us somewhat dehydrated.
Lack of sleep
After a night of drinking and possibly dancing, our bodies will feel fatigued. Once we get to bed, the resting will begin, but that is only sometimes the case.
It depends on what factors are at play. The main one is that the body, instead of resting, will be processing the alcohol to begin healing.
This could also be processing that big juicy kebab you had on the way home, or if you are like me, you will be up and down urinating, which can profoundly impact your sleep.
Why Do I Get a Hangover and My Friend Doesn’t?
We all have a friend who drinks like a fish all night and doesn’t end up leaning over a toilet. So how do they do it?
Well, a group of scientists in Holland decided to try and find out. The study looked at 36 healthy social drinkers, half claiming to have regular hangovers and the other half saying they are immune to hangovers.
The hangover group’s urine ethanol levels matched various hangover symptoms, including nausea, lack of focus, sleepiness, weakness, apathy, sweating, stomach pain, thirst, heart racing, anxiety, and sleep problems.
When it came to the hangover-immune group, they had less alcohol in their urine, which suggests that they can metabolise alcohol more rapidly than the hangover group.
The findings of this study are that the amount of alcohol consumed does not determine the severity of a hangover. And before you ask yourself the question, there is no way to acquire this ability.
If you are the one susceptible to a hangover, then I’m afraid there is no changing your destiny of gobbling fry-ups or strong sugary coffees the morning after in an attempt at a cure.
Is There a Cure for Hangovers?
In short, no. There is no known cure for a hangover; there are only ways to reduce its effects.
What are these effects? Well, all you have to do is type ‘hangover cures’ into Google, and you will get a whole list of things you can do.
Now, I am not saying that none of these work. Some of them might do the job of numbing your hangover a bit. Every little bit helps, right? But it is worth bearing in mind that none of these suggestions, no matter how confident they may sound, will be able to rid you of your hangover. It all comes down to perseverance.
Finding what makes those days of healing more bearable may take a while.
We have already looked at how vital rehydration can be in lessening the effects of a hangover and rest. What else can we do to make lying on the couch watching Saturday Kitchen more bearable?
I have lured you here in the hope that there is a vast list of things that can help, but in truth, it is looking bare. There are the usual go-to’s, such as painkillers or sugary drinks and greasy food, which we have mentioned, or you can continue to drink, but let’s be honest, it is only a matter of time before you meet the inevitable.
It comes down to what gives you the most comfort as you sit through the healing process. After all, can you cut yourself without healing? It is essential.
Perhaps a hangover is necessary to be able to drink and is a friend in disguise making sure we can get back to tip-top condition for another night out on the town.
I admit that my analogy is a stretch, but it may help you come to terms with the fact that what we are so desperate to have does not exist.
Will the Next Generation be Hangover-Free?
Before we wrap this up, let’s talk about what the future may hold—Have you ever heard of David Nutt? David Nutt from Imperial College London has been working on a hangover cure, which includes a synthetic chemical that imitates alcohol.
Does this count as a cure for alcohol? The synthetic chemical provides the same effects as alcohol (it can still get you drunk) without a hangover.
How does this work? Well, Nutt has developed a molecule that binds to receptors that bring the pleasant effects of alcohol without ever attaching to those that bring the hangover.
Whether or not this is a solution or not remains to be seen. Yes, hangovers affect society, but how will no hangovers affect society? These are questions that are yet to be answered.
Throughout history, we have learned that there is no ultimate solution, as solutions to problems bring new problems to the fray. Either way, exciting times in the world of alcohol await.
The Only Cure for a Hangover
In the end, the only solution to avoiding a hangover is not drinking too much. An endless cycle of hangovers could indicate you need to cut down on or stop drinking.
One of the most worrying signs of drinking too much is using alcohol itself as a ‘cure’ for a hangover. The hair of the dog may stave off symptoms temporarily, but if you are losing control of your drinking, you may start experiencing withdrawal, which is much more uncomfortable and long-lasting than any hangover.