Avoiding The Dreaded Hangover

New Year's Eve is the night when millions of toasts are made. But the next day, many will suffer the consequences - the dreaded hangover headache.

To help, Dr. Christine Lay, a neurologist at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, visits The Early Show with some tips on avoiding a miserable start to the New Year.

She explains, "The hangover-headache component is a result of the alcohol's effect on the blood vessels in and around the brain and causes them to dilate and swell and triggering headache pain."

Though it depends on the individual, typically the average 150-pound male needs at least an hour for the liver to metabolize one alcoholic drink. Lay explains, "Over the course of the evening, two to three drinks is a relative level of consumption. Beyond that, you're putting yourself at risk."

Lay says some of the strategies to avoid a hangover include drinking in moderation. She says, "You should drink slowly and have your alcoholic drinks and your nonalcoholic drinks alternately. The type of alcohol you choose may lead to a headache, depending on what you're drinking."

She explains, "The liquor drinks that are straight up on the rocks are more likely to trigger a headache than those mixed with fruit or vegetable juices. Whiskey, bourbon and red wine, the darker liquors, contain more congeners, which are by-products of alcohol and they lead to hangover symptoms."

Lay also notes that there are certain foods people can eat to avoid a headache the next day. She says, "This is the one time of the year we recommend people not go by the health-conscious method. Greasy foods will actually help slow the absorption of the alcohol or delay the absorption of the alcohol so you don't have the same effects of the alcohol leading to hangover in the morning."

A big help is also drinking a lot of water or other liquids that have minerals and electrolytes in them, like juices, and soup.

If you do have headache the next day, Lay advises, "You need to re-hydrate because you've got to remember that you're dehydrated from the excess alcohol. Caffeine is helpful so you can have cups of coffee or some kind of caffeinated beverage to help constrict those dilated blood vessels. And some people taking two aspirin or two ibuprofen will help alleviate the pain of a headache."

But if you drink coffee, she notes, it may in excess lead to more dehydration. So when drinking coffee, increase water consumption.