Hangover Cures to Try Next Time You Have One Too Many

man with hangover holding head in bed

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You had too much to drink last night and you wake up with a splitting headache and an upset stomach. The light coming in the window is blinding but you are too tired to get up and close the shade. You have a hangover. Why do these happen and what can you do to get rid of it fast?

Hangover Causes and Prevention

Understanding why hangovers happen can help you to manage your food and drink decisions to help prevent or manage a hangover.

Causes

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it pushes fluids out of the body. Loss of fluid is accompanied by loss of essential salts like potassium and magnesium. Blood-sugar levels are disrupted. Toxins from the breakdown of alcohol and other ingredients in the drinks can remain in the body for several hours after drinking has finished.

Alcohol can also directly irritate your stomach and intestines, leading to nausea. These effects combine to give the common symptoms of a hangover.

Prevention

You won't get a hangover if you don't drink alcohol, and your risk increases as you drink more alcohol in one session. Limiting alcohol consumption is the best way to prevent a hangover.

Another way that you may be able to minimize a hangover is by drinking water and eating food while drinking alcohol, which may at least keep it from affecting your stomach as much. Try to drink at least one glass of water between each alcoholic beverage.

The type of alcohol you drink makes a difference. Darker, sweeter drinks, such as brandy, sherry, red wine, and whiskey, will give you more of a hangover than white wine or vodka. Cheap spirits that are poorly refined are also more likely to give you a hangover.

If you anticipate that you'll be drinking and may drink a bit too much, you may want to try taking prickly pear extract several hours before you start drinking. Although experts don't know how prickly pear extract works, they think that it may have to do with its anti-inflammatory effects.

In other words, prickly pear extract may decrease inflammation that occurs during a hangover. But the only studies were performed on rats, who couldn't report on whether or not they felt hung over.

Hangover Remedies

Time is the only proven cure for a hangover. But if you are feeling miserable, you can try these strategies to treat hangover symptoms.

  • Consume a sports drink containing sugar and electrolytes to help replenish what you have lost and restore your blood sugar level. If you can stomach it, bananas help to replenish many essential salts, as can bouillon or vegetable broth. Avoid greasy, fatty food, which won't help with nausea.
  • Don't drink any alcohol. It's a myth that the "hair of the dog" is good for hangovers. Drinking more alcohol puts strain on your liver and stomach. It also simply puts off the hangover, which will be back later and will be even worse.
  • Don't drive until you have fully recovered. Just because you've slept after a drinking session doesn't mean you're sober. Nothing can speed alcohol out of the body, so don't kid yourself that a strong coffee will do it (it's more likely just to help replenish a little fluid).
  • Drink lots of water to try to mitigate alcohol's dehydrating effect.
  • Sleep. A few hours of it can work miracles.

Warning

Avoid Tylenol and other pain relievers that contain acetaminophen. They can produce liver damage when combined with the alcohol remaining in your system. Aspirin might also upset your stomach if you are sensitive to it.

Hangover Mocktail

This non-alcohol hangover drink may help you to feel better.

  • 1 part olive oil
  • 1 raw egg yolk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of tomato ketchup
  • Dash of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce
  • Some lemon juice (or pickle juice or vinegar).

This hangover recovery drink is not based on clinical research, but the theory behind it is that the egg yolk contains N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), an amino acid that helps to drive out the toxins acquired from booze and tobacco smoke. Tomato ketchup provides bioflavonoids, which are an excellent source of antioxidants.

A Word From Verywell

You will need time to heal from a hangover. Rehydrate, nourish your body, and get rest. Let it be a lesson learned and the next time you drink alcohol, take it easy.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Hangovers.

  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Hangover treatment.

  3. Wang F, Li Y, Zhang YJ, Zhou Y, Li S, Li HB. Natural products for the prevention and treatment of hangover and alcohol use disorder. Molecules. 2016;21(1):64. doi:10.3390/molecules21010064