We have all been there: had one too many, and suffered for it the next day. A hangover isn’t a very nice experience. Fortunately for you, most hangovers only last a short while, although it can feel like years when your head is pounding. A very bad hangover where you experience a mild form of alcohol poising can last for up to 3 days.
24 hours can feel like an eternity when you’re dealing with the symptoms. So, can you do anything about it? Let’s look at the factors that influence your hangover and how to prevent getting one in the first place.
Below we also look at some old wives’ tales and tried and tested cures. So, if you’ve ever suffered from a hangover or want to know how to prevent getting one, you’re in the right place.
Factors That Influence How Long Your Hangover Will Last
There are certain factors that will determine how long your hangover will last, including how much you eat before the time, whether you stay hydrated and how old you are. Let’s discuss these factors.
Did You Eat?
Before you go out drinking, it’s important that you eat something. It’s never a good idea to drink on an empty stomach, because you’ll get intoxicated faster. In addition, alcohol damages your stomach lining so if you haven’t eaten, this can lead to stomach cramps and vomiting.
What you eat before drinking will also have a huge impact on how you feel the next morning. If you eat the wrong type of food, it could cause heartburn, bloating, or indigestion. So, what should you eat before your big night out?
- Eggs: They are rich in protein and highly nutritious and filling. An egg contains 7 grams of protein. Snacking on eggs before drinking can help slow the emptying of your stomach and delay alcohol absorption. Protein helps you feel fuller for longer, so it affects how you feel overall.
- Oats: Filled with fiber and protein, oats can ease the effects of alcohol on your stomach. Oats contain protein and fiber. They are also filled with iron and vitamin B6, and calcium. They even improve your liver function and help reduce liver damage.
- Bananas: It’s a portable snack that won’t have you feeling bloated. The humble banana packs in 4 grams of fiber per fruit and slows down the amount of alcohol that is absorbed by your bloodstream. They are also high in potassium which helps prevent electrolyte imbalances.
- Greek yogurt: Offering the perfect balance of carbs, protein, and fat, this is one of the best foods you can eat before going out drinking. You’ll digest protein much slower and help minimize the effects of alcohol on the body.
- Avocado: If you enjoy avocado on toast, then you’re in luck. Rich in healthy monosaturated fats, avos act like a shield against the alcohol. This is because it will take much longer to digest protein or carbs. They are very high in potassium and help balance electrolytes.
Foods to Avoid Before Drinking
You may feel tempted to eat a large fatty meal or burger to line your stomach. Unfortunately, this isn’t the best idea. The alcohol can react with the food and cause stomach pain, bloating, or fluid buildup.
Other food to avoid include:
- Spicy food
- Carbonated drinks
- Salty foods
- Potato chips
Try to avoid bread. If you must have bread, then opt for a health loaf or brown bread.
How Much Water You Drink
Drinking alcohol has a diuretic effect that makes you go to the bathroom more often. Even though you’re drinking, you could still get dehydrated if you aren’t also drinking water. However, don’t drink too much water as it may mix with the alcohol and make you vomit. A good rule of thumb is, one glass of water for three glasses of alcohol. If you’re doing shots on top of drinking, you may need to supplement with more water.
Mild dehydration causes dry mouth and headaches, and you could also feel dizzy or very tired. So if you notice these symptoms, you know it’s time to get some H2O. If you do end up getting sick, it’s also vital to replace the electrolytes as soon as possible.
How Old You Are
Do you feel like a hangover lasts a lot longer now that you’re older? You aren’t imagining it. You might not have been affected when you were a teenager, but as you get older that changes. This is because your body’s ability to process toxins decreases. The older you get, the more your body will be affected by the alcohol.
What are the Symptoms of a Hangover?
How do you know if you have a hangover? Chances are that you won’t feel very well, thanks to symptoms like:
- Dry mouth
- Upset stomach
- Sensitivity to sound and light
- Trouble sleeping
How to Get Relief
There isn’t a magic wand or special pill you can take to get quick relief, but there are some things you can do to minimize the effect of alcohol. For example, try these coping methods:
- Stay hydrated: Sip on water or fruit juice to stay hydrated. If you can’t stomach water, chew on a couple of ice-blocks until you start to feel better.
- Try and sleep: Lie down on your bed and close your eyes. Try to keep as still as possible and regulate your breathing. Even simply resting and closing your eyes can help your body calm down.
- Eat something: Eating may be the last thing on your mind, but food will help restore your electrolytes. Choose something simple such as a piece of toast or a simple soup.
- Take pain meds: Don’t wait until your head is pounding to take action. Take an over-the-counter medication before you go to sleep. Rather stay away from ibuprofen as it can irritate your stomach lining. Also, Acetaminophen can damage your liver so pick meds wisely.
Old Wives’ Tales
Many people have a tried and tested remedy to combat a hangover.
Unfortunately, none of them have been scientifically proven and may do more harm than good. Old wives’ tales you should avoid:
- Hair of the dog: Some people swear by drinking just a little alcohol the next morning. This isn’t a good idea. In fact, this will make your hangover last longer and prevent your body from recovering. It’s best to avoid alcohol for at least 48 hours before drinking again.
- Coffee: A good cup of coffee can have a stimulating effect and might seem to make you feel better at first. However, caffeine has a diuretic effect and can lead to dehydration.
- Greasy foods: That bacon might seem like a tasty treat but it’s best to avoid greasy foods. A big breakfast can irritate the stomach lining and make you feel even more nauseated.
- Not eating: If you’re feeling ill, you may want to skip eating completely and just stay in bed all day. This is a bad idea as not eating will mess with your blood sugar levels. Instead, stay nourished with healthy foods such as fruit and veggies. If that seems too much, opt for a dry piece of toast and regular sips of water.
Tips For Next Time
- Set a drinking limit
- Drink slowly and pace yourself
- Drink water in between drinks
- Eat something before drinking
How Long does Hangover Anxiety Last?
The regular symptoms of a hangover are bad enough, but have you ever experienced uneasiness or panicking after drinking? This is known as hangover anxiety and it’s more common than you may think. When you drink alcohol, you feel happy, but what comes up must come down. Once the alcohol effects wear off the brain, it will go through a withdrawal phase.
Drinking releases endorphins, your happy hormone, but the next morning you have lost those endorphins so you may feel less happy and low. It takes your brain about 24 hours to recover from this effect. If you drink heavily this feeling may accompany memory loss or lost time. This can increase your feelings of anxiety.
If you feel like you may have a drinking problem that is affecting your mental health, try to participate in a dry January or an abstinence period. You may experience withdrawal symptoms at first, but soon your overall health and mental health should improve.
To minimize the anxious feeling drink plenty of fluids and treat the physical symptoms of your hangover with medication. If you have a trusted friend or family member, talking to them about how you feel could be very beneficial.
Top tips to avoid hangover anxiety include:
- Never drink on an empty stomach
- Take it slow and supplement with water
- Never mix different types of alcohol
- Set a drinking limit
- Limit the number of shots you have, or avoid them entirely
- Never mix alcohol with drugs or prescription medication
- If you’re prone to memory loss or engaging in dangerous activities, don’t drink alone
There is nothing wrong with enjoying a drink in moderation, but if you don’t want to experience a hangover then pacing yourself is key. This article is filled with tips and advice, so enjoy life—but do it the wise way.