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23rd April 2012

Ask Keir: Hangovers

This week Keir looks at how to deal with the bane of every student’s life: hangovers

Ask Keir is a column aiming to answer all your health questions. If you want to know about that funny looking lump that won’t go away, why that student doctor keeps poking you or anything at all to do with health get in touch at: [email protected]

All questions will of course be kept confidential and anonymous.


Question of the Week

After a heavy night out I get unbelievably bad hangovers and my housemates always end up moaning about me moaning about them. Do any of these hangover remedies like raw eggs and sugary drinks work?

Hangovers are the bane of many a students life and when you’ve got a lecture at 9am and you’re trying to rise yourself against the copious amounts of alcohol you consumed the night before they can be positively rotten. But what are they?

Well like lots of things in life we are not entirely sure but there are a few certainties. Alcohol is a diuretic and what we mean by that is it causes your body to expel water faster than normal thus why many of us need to go to the toilet more regularly on a night out. That in turn causes us to become dehydrated giving you that dry mouth and banging headache when you wake up in the morning. The nausea and vomiting are most likely caused by alcohol irritating the lining of your stomach. Then to top it off getting in at 4am and having four hours sleep gives rise to a morning in hell.

Not drinking is the best form of preventing hangovers… but let’s be realistic. Here’s my three step plan to making mornings after the night before that little bit more bearable.

  1. Eat Toast – After a night out binging blood sugar levels are low and replacing can help restore them to normal levels. So get a piece of toast down you before you go to bed.
  2. Drink Water – As I said above dehydration is one of the main culprits so alleviate it by drinking a pint of water when walking through the door.
  3. Take Paracetamol – Wake up and take one with some water and it will help you through the toughest part of the day. Avoid ibuprofen and aspirin as these will irritate your stomach lining that has already been abused.

Other than that most other remedies have limited use or are only psychosomatic (don’t underestimate this though, if it makes you feel better it’s worth using). Interestingly there is some science to that old adage ‘hair of the dog’ as your body starts prioritising breaking down the fresh alcohol rather than the toxic metabolites that cause some of the problems.

If you are tempted to try this out Hemingway reportedly swore by tomato juice mixed with beer… yuck! But of course if or when you do stop drinking the hangover will kick in and the long road to recovery will begin.

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