Overindulging in food and drink is a holiday tradition, but if you've ever gone overboard, you know that drinking too much alcohol can bring on that nasty hangover headache. CBS News health contributor and American Red Cross president, Dr. Bernadine Healy, brings us some tips to ease the suffering the morning after.
From a medical standpoint, Dr. Healy says " a hangover is actually an acute illness. Overindulging in alcohol leads to a depletion of your body's water and salts and minerals, but it also leads to a pouring out of your liver of toxic byproducts of the metabolism of alcohol. That affects your hormonal systems, interrupts your sleep, and can even make you hypoglycemic, having low glucose levels in your blood."
Although taking aspirin before going to bed after drinking too much, might help prevent a hangover, Dr. Healy cautions that you don't take any byproducts that have acetaminophen in it, the Tylenol ingredient, because that can actually cause liver toxicity even in moderate drinkers.
Some of Dr. Healy's tips to help folks relieve hangovers include drinking fluids containing minerals and salts, water before you go to bed and when you wake up in the morning, grapefruit juice is good because it can help with detoxifying the liver. Dr. Healy also suggests drinking coffee because caffeine actually constricts blood vessels in your brain and decrease those nasty headaches.
"Eat carbohydrates and sugars. That will help relieve that hypoglycemia and also can favorably affect how your liver handles the alcohol," says Healy.
"Women do not tolerate alcohol as well as men do. We also know that people who have never had that much to drink before don't handle it as well as people that are sort of the regular drinkers. Older people don't handle it as well as younger people."
As far as the number of drinks that one has before having a hangover, Dr. Healy says " actually, it's very close to the number of drinks that you would have to become legally drunk in most states. That means for men, between three and four drinks in an evening, and for women, between two and three. So you know, that's a good number to keep in your mind. When you exceed that level, you're in for a hangover.
Some measures to take to prevent having a hangover are not to overindulge and to know your body. Dr. Healy cautions "drink slowly because it gives your body a chance to handle it. You don't overload your liver with nasty alcohol." Dr. Healy also says that drinking lots of water will help prevent dehydration, don't drink on an empty stomach, and don't drink and drive.
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