Doctor, students give advice for hangovers


A night of drinking out is a common source of entertainment for many college students, but the next morning usually brings on the unpleasant experience of a hangover.

Robert Pandina, director of the Center of Alcohol Studies, said there are many misconceptions about what a hangover is, and subsequently, there are misconceptions about how people suffering from them can cure themselves.

“A hangover is basically a withdrawal syndrome,” he said. “It’s the result of having consumed typically larger quantities of alcohol and is actually the consequence of the alcohol being removed from your body and your body’s response to having to adjust itself.”

A lot of students simply believe that a hangover is a severe case of dehydration. Pandina said this is a misconception, though alcohol does cause the human body to dehydrate.

Drinking water should help rehydrate, but may not provide too much relief, he said. Other symptoms occur along with dehydration during a hangover.

Yan Reydman, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said a hangover is caused by dehydration but has many symptoms.

“I have trouble opening my eyes, I’m very groggy, it’s like I haven’t slept all night and there’s throbbing in my temples,” he said. I’ve also heard from my friends you can get a severe headache.”

According to an article by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the drug has an impact on sleep, alertness the next day, and “certain psychological processes” that occur during sleep.

Different stages of sleep are affected in different ways, according to the article.

“Several studies have assessed the effects of alcohol administration over several nights,” it said. “Such studies clearly demonstrated that tolerance to alcohol’s sedative and sleep-stage effects develops within three nights”.

The body can build up a tolerance against these effects.

Waiting for a hangover to pass is the most effective way to be cured, Pandina said. Aspirin or other conventional products, along with other treatments, may help alleviate some of the symptoms, such as headaches.

Some students believe greasy food will help relieve a hangover.

“No, that’s not good at all. It’s certainly not the way to help dealing with a hangover,” Pandina said. ”If students think about eating when they drink, that may actually help reduce the likelihood that you have a hangover.”

Eating while drinking forces the body to absorb alcohol more slowly, helping it process the sugar better.

He said over-the-counter anti-hangover products are ineffective.

“To my knowledge there is no evidence scientifically that any of these products actually work to do anything for your hangover,” he said.

Tejus Pradeep, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said students still put faith in recipes or other hangover cures.

“I’ve seen friends eat specific (items),” he said. “They (have) special little recipes of things that they swear work against hangovers.”

These items range from eating almonds and walnuts to drinking sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade. People also make sure to drink water, he said.

Although electrolyte-rich drinks like Gatorade may help reduce the dehydration, other remedies should not provide much of a cure, Pandina said. Any relief felt may simply be the placebo effect taking place. Students may believe that such remedies are helping them and so they feel better.

The obvious way to avoid a hangover is to simply not drink large quantities of alcohol, Pandina said. The majority of students choose not to employ this option when drinking.

“With friends sometimes, it just happens,” Reydman said. “We drink a lot but everyone reminds each other to drink a lot of water so there’s no problem there.”

Pradeep said he would recommend moderation and knowing limits. Having friends watch over each other while drinking would also help them stay within limits.

Drinking intelligently could not hurt, he said.

“The best thing you can do for your body ... is just maintain good hydration afterwards and certainly eating may help deal with some of the aftermath of symptoms having to do with a hangover,” Pandina said. “That is not a 'cure' … but there’s no magic food that will help you with a hangover”.

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