It’s the morning after the night before and you’re in excruciating pain. You feel sick to your stomach, your head hurts so much you feel brain-dead and you’re starting to regret those parts of the evening you can actually remember. Unfortunately, no magic pill can snap you out of your stupor, but there are a few things you can do to make the day a little easier on yourself. Here, we debunk commonly dispensed wisdom and show you the true hangover dos and don’ts.
Don’t - Take Acetaminophen
More commonly known as Tylenol than by its generic name, acetaminophen can wreak havoc on your liver if ingested while intoxicated. The reason is that when your liver is busy metabolizing alcohol, it processes the painkiller differently than it otherwise would, resulting in toxic compounds that can cause liver inflammation and even permanent damage.
Do - Take Ibuprofen
Set your alarm a little early and take an ibuprofen such as Advil in the morning one hour before you need to be a functional human being. Use this remedy in dire emergencies only, like when you’re meeting your new girlfriend’s parents for the first time at brunch and you have a splitting headache.
Don’t — Pound Caffeine
Drinking shot after shot of espresso will not sober you up, nor will it get rid of your hangover. In fact, caffeine can work as a diuretic, potentially making you feel worse as a result of being further dehydrated.
Do - Have One Gentle Caffeinated Beverage
While drinking excessive amounts of coffee or caffeinated energy drinks won’t do much to improve your sorry state, a single caffeinated beverage can help, particularly if you didn’t get enough sleep, by giving you an energy boost and improving mental alertness. Try black tea or one cup of good quality coffee and make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day.
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Don’t - Eat Sausages and Bacon
Though a greasy fry-up that includes sausages and bacon is often touted as the mother of all hangover cures, steer clear of this dietary disaster when you’re feeling worse for wear as a result of imbibing too much alcohol. While fatty foods will temporarily distract your stomach, you’re not really providing your body with the nutrients it craves after a heavy night out.
Do - Eat Eggs
Swap your fry-up for hard-boiled or poached eggs. Eggs contain cysteine, a substance that can help break down acetaldehyde, a toxin associated with alcohol metabolism and hangovers.
Don’t - Exercise
If you’ve really tied one on the night before, a hard workout isn’t the best idea. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that in large quantities, it causes you to lose water and become dehydrated. A major sweat session can result in more dehydration and is therefore not a good idea.
Do - Shower and Relax
A shower will raise your temperature, prepping your body for sleep so you can bypass the most painful part of your day. On the flip side, a cold shower will make you feel more alert. To encourage additional relaxation or to invigorate your mind and body if you’ve got a big day ahead of you, try a body wash like one from Axe’s new Fixer line, which features specially formulated products to jump-start your day or speed your recovery.
Don’t - Eat French Fries and Hash Browns
In much the same way that a plateful of sausages and bacon won’t provide you with the relief you seek, neither will other calorie-laden options such as French fries and hash browns. Though you may temporarily feel better after eating these carbohydrate-rich snacks thanks to the rush of feel-good neurotransmitters they help release in your brain, you may be in for tummy troubles a few hours down the line.
Do - Eat Crackers
Bland foods including plain toast or lightly salted crackers will raise low blood-sugar levels and alleviate feelings of nausea, all without irritating your stomach the way fatty fried foods can. Additionally, to replenish potassium levels, eat fresh fruit like bananas.
Don’t - Do Hair of the Dog
Though it’s a tempting option because it will temporarily make you feel as good as new again, hair of the dog will only prolong your hangover. Initially, because the nastiest part of a hangover is when your blood-alcohol level reaches zero, having another drink will blunt your withdrawal symptoms. In the long run, however, consuming more alcohol will only ensure that you delay the worst to come rather than avoid it altogether.
Do - Drink Plenty of Other Fluids
Mineral water is your best bet to rehydrate yourself after a night on the tiles. As well, reach for sports drinks (to replace lost electrolytes), low-acid orange juice (to replenish your vitamin C levels) and natural fruit juices (to keep your blood sugar in check).
Don’t - Eat Before You Go to Bed
It’s a myth that filling up before bed will “soak up” the alcohol in your stomach. Food has to already be in your digestive system to slow the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream, so make sure you fuel up before heading out. Picks with a lot of fat, like pizza or steak, that take a long time to digest are your best bet for preventing a hangover later on.
Do - Drink Water Before Going to Bed
Overdoing it on the drinking front causes dehydration, so you need to replenish fluids. If you don’t drink water, your body will take what it needs from your vital organs, including your brain, resulting in a throbbing headache the following morning.
Do the Right Thing
In the end, the only true cure for a hangover is time, as your body simply has to detox. To prevent yourself from being in this heinous situation in the first place, double-fist it on a big night out, downing one tall glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you imbibe. Your body will thank you the next day, and there will be one less embarrassing photo of you on Facebook.