Pat Pilcher: Dealing with a post-New Year's hangover

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Most of us tend to forget that New Year's Eve is usually followed by a hangover of epic proportions. If you've had a big night, check out our top 10 tips to dealing with hangovers.

1: Drink lots of water
Alcohol is a diuretic, and causes dehydration. While drinking and before sleeping, drink lots of water. Ideally you should aim to drink a glass of water with every drink you consume. Doing this helps avoid dehydration, replacing lost fluids, allowing you to feel considerably less miserable the following day.

2: Coffee
Caffeine might be a great way to wake up for many, but is it a cure-all for hangovers? Even though caffeine is often used to cure headaches, it has also been found to cause them. That said, caffeine narrows blood vessels and boosts blood pressure which may make hangovers worse. If you are a caffeine addict try a small amount of coffee and wait half an hour. Also if you drink a morning coffee, remember this - drink water as well - as caffeine is also a diuretic.

3: Sports drinks
Alcohol has a diuretic effect and the theory is that this might cause your body to lose electrolytes, but their rate of loss tends to be exaggerated, and is not so severe that you'll need to replace them with sports drinks. Research also shows that because of this, most sports drinks are typically no more effective than water when it comes to dealing with hangovers.

4: Hair of the dog
Even though more booze is the last thing many of us want when awakening to a head thumper, some swear by more alcohol as a means of combating hangovers. Scientists however say that all people are doing by adopting the "fur of a poodle" approach is prolonging the inevitable, even potentially making hangovers worse. Hangovers tend to be nasty because alcohol is toxic, hence another post-hangover drinking session will ultimately lead to an even worse hangover the following day.

5: Carbs
If you've spent post-drinking time making a lengthy call on the great white porcelain telephone, this might help. The carbs in toast (my father-in-law swears by avocado on toast) or crackers can help stabilise blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels drop, the liver produces more glucose, but if your liver is dealing with alcohol chances are that it wont be able to handle any extra work, so blood sugar levels remain low, leaving you to feel miserable. Eating carb rich foods (such as avocado on toast) can go a long way to offsetting this.

6: Greasy grub
There are all sorts of myths about what to eat when waking with a head-splitting hangover, but it is what you eat before a big night out that makes the biggest difference. Food can slow the rate of absorption of alcohol, so a greasy nosh up before you head out might save you a pile of grief the following day.

7: Pain medication
Easing a headache with aspirin can sometimes do more harm than good. Pain medication for headaches taken when a liver is already working overtime to metabolise alcohol can potentially result in liver damage. Although Aspirin contains bicarbonate soda which will settles queasy stomachs by neutralising stomach acid, other pain medication ingredients can irritate already fragile stomachs, defeating the original purpose of popping a pill.

8: Hangover pills & potions
There are lots of different hangover cure pills and potions available, but there's also little evidence backing up their effectiveness. Reviews by various science journals such as a 2005 article in BMJ discussed eight peer-reviewed studies of hangover pills, concluding that "no compelling evidence exists to suggest that any conventional or complementary intervention is effective for preventing or treating alcohol hangovers."

9: Vitamins
If popping a multi vitamin is part of your morning routine, don't change a thing, but keep this in mind - there is no scientific evidence that vitamins do anything to alleviate a hangover. In short, a typical night out on the razzle shouldn't be enough to dramatically change nutrient levels and you're better off making sure you remain hydrated when drinking.

10: Drink less
Try to limit drinks to about one every hour. A typical human body tends to metabolise a glass of beer, wine or other booze every 60 to 75 minutes. If you drink faster, your blood alcohol level rises faster. If you eat before you drink and follow each drink with a glass of water, chances are that you'll feel a whole lot less sorry for yourself in the morning. Remember, no matter how much you drink, don't drive and play it safe.

- NZ Herald

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