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Myths and Facts about Hangovers

Rahul Pandita
We all know that hangovers are caused due to drinking too much alcohol, but many of us don't have a clue when it comes to managing it. In this Buzzle article, we will debunk some common myths associated with hangovers.

Hangovers Cost a Fortune!

According to research, hangovers cause annual losses to the tune of $150 billion. The losses are attributed to employees failing to report to work and not able to perform effectively due to hangovers.
Although hangovers have assumed a comical, trivial place in the popular culture, its effects on the body are profound. Hangovers are associated with causing headache, nausea, dehydration, vomiting, and in some serious cases, it may also require a visit to the doctor.
When people drink poorly, they face the prospect of waking up with a tumultuous hangover. Unawareness about managing hangovers means that most people end up following the advice of ill-informed people. To make matters worse, there are numerous myths which claim to cure hangovers.
These myths range from innocuous activities such as taking a cold shower, to more serious stuff such as making a voodoo doll from the alcohol bottle and sticking 13 pins to it. There are some other myths about hangovers that need some debunking and for the sake of our fellow drinkers, we take it upon ourselves to clear the air about hangovers.

Myth: If you gorge after you are drunk, you will not get a hangover.

Fact: If you eat well before you start drinking, the chances of having a hangover are lesser. However, when you drink on an empty stomach, the alcohol directly enters into your bloodstream and increases the chances of getting high quickly. Eating after you have consumed alcohol may not prevent a hangover, although it may help in managing it.

Myth: Hangovers are gender-neutral.

Fact: It has been scientifically proven that men have more water in their bodies as compared to women. When alcohol enters a man's body, the water dilutes the alcohol and lessens its effect on the body. So, if a man and woman drink approximately the same amount of alcohol, the chances of the woman waking up with a hangover are greater.

Myth: Hangovers are caused only when one indulges in binge drinking.

Fact: A hangover is the body's reaction to the excess alcohol present in the body. Whether or not a person will have a hangover depends upon several factors. Although people who drink heavily at one go have a higher risk of having a hangover, it is not limited to binge drinking only. Just one or two drinks can trigger the symptoms of hangover in some people.

Myth: Hair of the dog will cure a hangover.

Fact: Alcohol has the capacity to postpone a hangover, therefore, some people have this fallacy that more alcohol 'cures' a hangover. Drinking, while you are nursing a hangover, increases the amount of toxins in the body, which means that when you sober up, the hangover will hit you harder.
Also, drinking to fix hangovers can increase your dependence on alcohol, leading to alcohol abuse and addiction.

Myth: Drinking coffee cures a hangover instantly.

Fact: There is no scientific evidence which substantiates the claim that coffee can cure a hangover. Contrarily, research has found that caffeine may actually do more damage to managing a hangover. Coffee may relieve that headache temporarily, and make you feel less drowsy, but over a period of time, it will leave you dehydrated.

Myth: Taking over-the-counter pills before sleeping will prevent a hangover.

Fact: Over-the-counter pills usually work well to relieve ailments, such as headache and nausea when there is no alcohol present in the body. However, after consuming alcohol, the liver has to work to metabolize the excess toxins, because of which it is not able to metabolize the medicine.
This can cause side effects, like liver inflammation and liver failure. Also, most over-the-counter pills work within the first four hours after consuming them; therefore, they are not effective the morning after.

Myth: Cold showers help in curing a hangover.

Fact: You may feel good as long as you are under the shower, but according to the National Health Service (UK), a cold shower won't have a lasting impact in curing a hangover.

Myth: Having beer before liquor, or liquor before beer prevents hangovers.

Fact: The order in which you have your drinks doesn't help in preventing hangovers. The fact is that hangovers are caused by too much alcohol in the body and not by the type of alcohol you have consumed.

What Works

Once you wake up with a hangover, you shouldn't panic and try out something inane to get rid of the hangover. They get better with time, and to aid in the recovery, you should drink water continuously. It may not cure the headache, but it will fight against dehydration.
Eating a meal rich in carbohydrates and proteins will help you in gaining energy, especially if you have thrown up. Drinking energy drinks can also be beneficial, but unlike water, you need to drink it in a limited amount, as too much sugar can cause problems of its own.
Last but not the least, although it may sound clichéd, drink within your limits. Having fewer drinks and drinking water in between can definitely help in ensuring that you wake up healthy and are raring to go the morning after.