Who knows how to nurse a hangover better than an actual nurse? Gail Ingram is a concierge nurse in NYC and makes house calls to treat hangovers. She’s an expert on the subject and has created a Holiday Hangover Guide to get you back on your feet (without an IV).
The holidays are upon us and that means spiked eggnog, hot buttered rum, and peppermint schnapps. Festive parties and family dinners are reasons for indulging in a glass (or four) of holiday cheer. No judgment on my part, but your body might be a little angry with you in the morning. Here are some tips to help the two of you reconcile your differences.
It’s probably a no-brainer, but I have to start by saying that limiting the amount of alcohol will limit the chances of a nasty hangover. The guidelines for “low risk” consumption recommend no more than 1 drink per day for adult women and 2 drinks per day for the guys. Excessive drinking is defined as 4 or more drinks in one day for the ladies and 5 or more drinks in a day for men.
The good thing is that our bodies can easily process a small amount of alcohol and its byproducts (congeners found in alcohol and acetalhyde made by the liver as it breaks down alcohol). But larger amounts of alcohol require larger amounts of water to process congeners and move acetalhyde through our system. When filtering mechanisms run low on water and get bogged down, it sources water from cells in other parts of the body. This causes dehydration, which is the real reason we feel so badly after a night of drinking alcohol.
So, it isn’t the alcohol itself that causes hangovers. Rather, alcohol sets into motion a chain reaction that results in dehydration. Being dehydrated, in turn, causes a variety of secondary problems.
If you know in advance that you will overindulge, plan ahead. Drink an extra 32 ounces of water before an event, drink a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage, and have another 16 ounces before bed. If you’re really a planner, stock fresh coconut water in your fridge and drink it before going out and again when you return home. Have another available for the morning.
Also, taking a multivitamin before going out and again the morning is helpful to shorten the recovery time. Drinking lighter colored alcohol (since it has fewer impurities) and sticking to the same type of drink helps reduce the severity of symptoms. Because of the way beer affects our livers, there is some truth to the saying “beer before liquor makes you sicker.” Morning body aches caused by dehydration or aggressive dance moves may be relieved by ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and its anti-inflammatory action. There is also some theoretical evidence that suggests eggs might help breakdown acetalhyde and decrease the length of time spent in agony.
Best wishes to you this holiday season!