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7th December, 20202 min read

What is a hangover and how can you treat it?

Medical reviewer: Dr Ann Nainan
Author: Dr Lauretta Ihonor
Last reviewed: 01/12/2020
Medically reviewed

All of Healthily's articles undergo medical safety checks to verify that the information is medically safe. View more details in our safety page, or read our editorial policy.

A hangover is a set of unpleasant symptoms you may develop after drinking a lot of alcohol.

Common symptoms include headaches, feeling sick and dizziness.

Hangovers happen because drinking alcohol makes you pee more than normal. When this happens, you can become dehydrated, and it’s dehydration that causes many of the symptoms you get when you’re hungover.

The best way to manage a hangover

You can reduce your chances of getting a hangover by:

  • not drinking too much alcohol. If you aren’t sure of the recommended guidelines, read this article about how much alcohol is safe to drink
  • not drinking on an empty stomach – eat something with carbohydrates or fats before you start drinking. This will help slow down how quickly your body absorbs the alcohol
  • drinking water between each alcoholic drink
  • sticking to clear alcoholic drinks such as vodka, gin and white rum. These contain a low amount of a chemical called congeners, which may make a hangover worse

How to treat a hangover

You can help manage a hangover by drinking a pint of water before going to sleep after drinking alcohol. This may reduce your risk of getting dehydrated.

You can also ease a hangover by:

  • taking painkillers for headaches and antacids to settle your stomach – speak to a pharmacist for advice on the best medicines to take for a hangover and how to safely take them
  • eating sugary foods may help you feel less trembly
  • drinking bouillon soup, a vegetable broth, to top up depleted vitamins and minerals
  • drinking bland fluids such as water and isotonic drinks

References

  1. Hangover cures [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2020 [cited 3 December 2020]. Available here.
  2. Can you cure a hangover? [Internet]. Healthily. 2020 [cited 3 December 2020]. Available here.
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