It’s the morning after a big night and you feel dreadful.  Not much food and too much alcohol at the office Christmas party, your second cousin Stephanie’s wedding or that neighborhood BBQ is a recipe for disaster.  Let’s talk about hangovers, how they make you feel and what you can do to avoid them.


What are the symptoms?

We have all experienced it, the pounding headache, dizziness, uncontrollable shakes, nausea or vomiting and that jet lagged feeling without the international flight to cause it.  A hangover can feel like a terrible punishment for a great night out but each symptom is a direct result of the interaction and disruption that drinking to intoxication causes to our body.  Here’s how your body responds and why:

  • Headache: Alcohol and its byproduct acetaldehyde make blood vessels expand, causing a headache.
  • Dizziness: Alcohol acts as a diuretic causing the body to lose water and dehydrate.This causes dizziness, a feeling of light-headedness and thirst.
  • Shakes: Drinking to intoxication causes blood sugar levels to fall, resulting in a feeling of both weakness and tiredness.
  • Nausea or vomiting: As alcohol affects the lining of your stomach it can lead to an increase in acidity causing a feeling of nausea and often vomiting.
  • Feeling jet lagged:  Alcohol disrupts brain activity during the night causing tiredness.  Although you may have slept, the alcohol prevents you from reaching deep restful sleep.
  • Feeling unwell:  Because your immune system has been triggered, you will also feel a loss of appetite and find it hard to concentrate or remember things.


What is the cure?

It’s pretty simple…don’t drink!  We understand this is probably unrealistic so the next best thing is drinking in moderation and following these tips to counteract the symptoms:

  • Take a pain reliever:  Taking ibuprofen or a similar anti-inflammatory can assist with the headache and overall feeling of pain.
  • Drink plenty of fluid:  This will help the feeling of dizziness as well as taking something to replenish the electrolytes such as Hydrolyte.
  • Have a good breakfast:  The lower blood sugar levels may be causing tiredness, a feeling of weakness, nausea and headaches, a sign that your brain may need some fuel.Try eating a breakfast containing carbs and other essential vitamins and minerals to help fuel your body and get it back on track.
  • Go back to bed:  A good sleep will help your body reset and fix the feeling of tiredness.
  • Drinking coffee or tea:  The caffeine can help with symptoms however too much may add to the diuretic effect of the alcohol.


How to avoid a hangover next time

These simple tips can help you enjoy an event or outing but without the terrible hangover the next day:

  • Eat before you go out:  Eating slows down the absorption of alcohol into the blood stream potentially reducing the effects of a hangover.
  • Stay hydrated:  Follow one alcoholic drink with a glass of water to maintain hydration.  Drink a few glasses of water before going to sleep to assist the process.
  • Drink in moderation: Australian guidelines recently changed advising that we should drink no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than four in one sitting.  One standard drink contains 10g of pure alcohol found in (approximately): 250ml full strength beer or 375ml mid strength beer, 100ml wine or 1 nip (30ml) of spirits.  Drink no more than one alcoholic drink per hour.
  • Stick to light coloured alcohol: Studies have shown that clear alcohol such as gin and vodka tend to cause hangovers less frequently than dark ones such as red wine, whiskey or dark rum.  Darker alcoholic drinks contains congeners or chemically related compounds such as methanol, which can cause more toxicity, and in turn a more severe hangover.
  • Get plenty of sleep: This helps the body recover and realign your biological clock.

Of course, if you still end up with a hangover, chat with a friendly Ramsay Pharmacist to help remedy your symptoms.  Click here to find your nearest Ramsay Pharmacy location.