Just in case you do get a hangover

Here are some tried and not necessarily true remedies.
Friday, December 30, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:15 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

The holiday season is renowned for overindulgence, and New Year’s Eve celebrations are no exception. But beware the aches and pains that accompany the morning after the night before.

Cures for hangovers vary from old wives’ tales, such as lining your stomach with greasy food, to ingesting over-the-counter products that promise to make it all better.

Brian Craig, a bartender at Eastside Tavern, has used one method for relieving hangovers for years. His system involves many stages and includes pre- and post-sleeping guidelines.

“You have to drink a Big Gulp-size water before you go to bed. It’s kind of risky because if you’re too drunk, you might pee the bed, but you need to do it,” he said.

Craig insists on some specific steps after you wake up.

“Step one: Slam another Big Gulp-size water, then take two aspirin. Definitely order delivery, because you won’t want to leave the house, but you have to eat something.”

Craig concludes his cycle with a nap, followed by more beer.

Rob Stine, a bartender at Flat Branch Pub and Brewery, follows a slightly less consistent method: “Wake up and start the day with a shot of what you were drinking the night before, or a Bloody Mary, and some greasy food like bacon and biscuits and gravy,” he said. “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Stine said he doesn’t think there is any real cure for a hangover except riding it out, adding that the best way to avoid getting a hangover in the first place is to drink plenty of water and take ibuprofen before going to bed.

Kenneth Ogawa, a general practitioner at University Hospital, would rather call a hangover “the temporary effects of drinking alcohol.” He said symptoms include, but are not limited to, nausea, headaches, tremors, high blood pressure, low heart rate and sensitivity to light.

Ogawa said 15 percent to 25 percent of college students experience hangover symptoms at least once a week. It’s reasonable to assume that even more will suffer them on New Year’s Day. And as much as you might feel like your head is about to explode, Ogawa said a hangover is rarely life-threatening.

Hangover symptoms are caused by chemicals the liver produces as it metabolizes booze. The liver produces acetaldehyde and ketones as alcohol breaks down in the body. This process, coupled with dehydration — because alcohol removes water from the body and parts of the brain — causes those nasty post-drinking aches.

Ogawa said that drinking even one alcoholic beverage per hour could result in a hangover and added that it is important to remember that drinking on an empty stomach, when tired, or while doing physical activity could increase the severity of your morning symptoms.

Ogawa said there is no evidence herbal remedies work.

“Drink moderately and responsibly,” Ogawa said, and if you have to overindulge then be prepared to deal with the painful consequences.

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