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Hangover headache? 10 tips to reduce your risk

(CBS News) Have you had a nasty hangover? You're not alone. According to Dr. Noah Rosen, director of the Headache Center at the North Shore-LIJ Health System's Cushing Neuroscience Institute, in Great Neck, N.Y., more than 70 percent of people will have a hangover in their lives. But according to Rosen, it's still not clear whether frequent boozers are more or less likely to be hungover - so anyone is at risk.

Hangovers are most likely a process that involves how the body metabolizes alcohol, drinking's effects on blood flow to the brain and the interaction of neurotransmitters like histamine, serotonin and prostaglandin. But the effects of a hangover can reach beyond a headache, causing tremors, sweating, increased pulse and blood pressure, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, thirst, light sensitivity, fatigue, depression and anxiety.

What's the best way to avoid a nasty hangover? With help from Dr. Rosen, here are 10 tops to reduce the likelihood of a hangover headache...

Hangover headache? 10 tips to reduce your risk

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1. Don't drink

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"First off, don't drink," Dr. Rosen tells HealthPop. "This is the top way to avoid a hangover headache." He suggests for a night out, people should substitute non-alcoholic drinks such as punches, sodas or spritzers.

But for people who plan on imbibing anyway...

Hangover headache? 10 tips to reduce your risk

2. Eat before you booze

Having food in stomach slows the absorption of alcohol into the body. High fat foods are particularly good in absorbing alcohol, Rosen says. Keep snacking throughout the party to keep blood sugar levels up and to buffer that alcohol.

Hangover headache? 10 tips to reduce your risk

If you've made smart choices so far, don't get tripped up by the beverages or after-meal choices. In fact, choosing to drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages may trigger heartburn no matter what you eat. The National Heartburn Alliance recommends mineral water as your safest bet; even nonalcoholic wine or beer can pose an intermediate risk. When choosing dessert, avoid chocolate (apple pie may be your best bet), and don't follow your meal with a cigarette - a well-known heartburn trigger. A post-meal walk is probably better than a nap, and when you do hit the pillow, make sure to sleep with your head elevated 6 to 8 inches to curb acid reflux. More from 13 foods that fight acid reflux istockphoto

3. Switch every other drink

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Drink slowly and make every other drink a non-alcoholic one. Water is best to work into your drinking routine, but Rosen says it's wise to stay away from caffeinated drinks - which increase heart rate and contribute to the dehydration that comes with a hangover.

Hangover headache? 10 tips to reduce your risk

Although it can be tempting to drink or use drugs, don't do it. Substance use and abuse can wreak havoc in people with depression. People who suffer from depression and anxiety often turn to alcohol and drugs to relieve their symptoms, but that strategy tends to be harmful in the long run. Drinking and drug use affect brain chemistry, and they can cause problems in relationships, work, and other aspects of life. (They can also be dangerous when combined with some antidepressants.) Although the occasional glass of wine probably won't hurt you, people with depression should limit their alcohol consumption, and, of course, say no to drugs.More from 10 Tips for Dating with Depression iStockphoto

4. Choose your booze wisely

Darker alcohols contain more congeners, which are toxic chemicals formed during fermentation, says Rosen. Drinks with higher concentrations of congeners, which also include red wines, may be more likely to cause a hangover headache.

Hangover headache? 10 tips to reduce your risk

In 2007, Ohio voters approved a state law to prohibit smoking in indoor public areas and workplaces. iStockPhoto

5. Don't drink and smoke

Stepping outside the bar for a cigarette break? Smoking can reduce the amount of oxygen to the brain and increase the risk of headache, not to mention lead to a lot of other medical problems.

Hangover headache? 10 tips to reduce your risk

Even if you have to give the medicine again in a few hours, don't leave it out, the CDC warns. Never leave medicine out on a kitchen counter or at a sick child's bedside. Plain and simple: Put every medicine and vitamin away every time you use it. istockphoto

6. Take an anti-inflammatory

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Consider taking an anti-inflammatory before going to sleep, says Dr. Rosen. This may help drinkers avoid some of the pain of the hangover. But don't overdo it - frequent use of alcohol and anti-inflammatories may lead to liver problems. Some people taking anti-inflammatories such as aspirin or ibuprofen may also increase their chance of stomach irritation and bruising.

Hangover headache? 10 tips to reduce your risk


7. Sleep it off

passed out, drunk, drinking, alcohol, alcoholic, knocked out, stock, 4x3Get enough sleep after a night out on the town, Dr. Rosen recommends. Alcohol can impair sleep patterns and poor sleep can lead to fatigue, worsened mood and pain, so it's crucial drinkers get enough shut-eye.

Hangover headache? 10 tips to reduce your risk

About 20 percent of people have recurrent headache, which is the most commonly reported pain problem, according to the American Academy of Neurology. It recommends avoiding EEGs (electroencephalography) for people with recurrent headaches because the test has shown no advantage over clinical evaluation. istockphoto

8. Know your history

Migraines and clues to help stop them

People with a significant history of migraine headaches may be at greater risk of hangover headaches and may want to prepare themselves with acute migraine treatment in case a bad episode is triggered. Speak with your doctor if you have a history of migraines.

Hangover headache? 10 tips to reduce your risk

Hangover, New Year's Day, After Party, People, One Person, Adult, Young Adult, Men, Young Men iStockphoto

9. Know how much you're drinking

HangoverDr. Rosen says it's important that people remember that one beer has the same alcohol as one glass of wine or one shot of liquor. But if you're reaching for a mixed drink, you should take into account that it likely contains multiple shots of alcohol.

Hangover headache? 10 tips to reduce your risk

Gastric bypass and other forms of weight-loss (bariatric) surgery can sometimes eliminate diabetes and other physical problems caused by obesity. But it can't eliminate the psychological disorder that causes people to binge-eat. Following weight-loss surgery, some former binge-eaters find they are unable to eat as much food as they once did - and so become heavy drinkers or compulsive shoppers as a result. istockphoto

10. Limit your alcohol intake

Dr. Rosen says frequent drinkers may develop problems beyond just a hangover. According to the CDC, drinking may lead to neurological problems (like dementia and stroke,) heart problems (such as heart attack and atrial fibrillation), psychiatric problems (like anxiety and depression), liver disease, and cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon and breast.

The CDC has more on alcohol and public health.

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