How to Address Hangovers With Home Remedies

Hangover

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If you are like many people, you have likely experienced the unpleasant symptoms associated with a hangover. From a headache and dry mouth to nausea, stomach upset, or a combination of them all, it is a less than enjoyable experience.

What's more, hangovers often come with other repercussions such as neurocognitive impairment, a higher risk of accidents, and less productivity in the workplace. The good news is, simple remedies can reduce hangover symptoms.

You also might be wondering why some hangovers are worse than others? Or how your friend is able to sip on wine all night without so much as a headache? Find out the answers to these questions as well as how to address your hangover symptoms below.

Why Hangovers Are Worse for Some People

Simply put, we all react to alcohol in our own unique way and often to varying degrees, despite unchanging factors. In fact, one study found that hangover symptoms vary across drinking events, even in the same individual. In other words, your symptoms do not necessarily correlate to the severity of your hangover.

In order to better diagnose your hangover severity, scales like the Alcohol Hangover Severity Scale (AHSS) have been developed in an effort to help define it, explains Serena Poon, CN, CHC, CHN, a certified nutritionist and celebrity chef.

"[AHSS] asks subjects to rate the perceived severity of 12 different symptoms on a scale of zero to 10, with the average of these ratings becoming the overall hangover severity score," Poon says. "These scales cannot give us a definition of a 'bad hangover,' as symptom severity, in this case, is subjective and tend to be inconsistent across people."

Serena Poon, CN, CHC, CHN

To alleviate your hangover finish drinking several hours before bedtime and switch to water 3 to 4 hours before going to bed to allow for restful sleep.

— Serena Poon, CN, CHC, CHN

Other factors that might determine why your hangover is worse than another person's hangover depend on how much you drink and the particular blend of symptom-inducing circumstances, says Poon. Even genetics can impact hangover risk.

A study of nearly 4,500 male and female twins found that genetics play a role in how severe our hangover may be, revealing that 43% of the variation to hangover resistance was related to genetic influences. This finding suggests why some people may have a higher tolerance to alcohol.

To lower your odds of a hangover, Poon suggests sticking to high-quality clearer liquors which have fewer congeners or byproducts. She also advises avoiding sugary mixers because they can disrupt your blood sugar level and hinder your sleep quality.

"It can also help to alleviate your hangover by finishing drinking several hours before bedtime and switching to water 3 to 4 hours before going to bed to allow for restful sleep," Poon adds. "Your body heals while you sleep, and it can use extra rest while it is working to process and eliminate alcohol from your system."

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Hangover Causes

Hangovers occur for a magnitude of reasons. According to Poon, the most common reasons include dehydration, a lack of sleep, electrolyte depletion, digestive distress, and acetaldehyde, a toxic byproduct of alcohol metabolism. This might explain why you experience a significantly worse hangover across two different occasions that followed the same drinking pattern.

Also, not all alcohol is made equal. For example, dark spirits like bourbon contain compounds known as congeners, a byproduct due to fermentation that lends to its flavor. Yet, it can induce an unwanted hangover. For wine drinkers, sulfites can spark a headache for anyone who is hypersensitive to the compound.

To prevent hangovers, the best advice is to abstain from drinking at all. However, if you are planning to drink, there are a few ways to diminish the severity of hangover symptoms. These include remaining sufficiently hydrated by alternating between alcoholic beverages and water, consuming food prior to eating to ease the rate of absorption, and drinking moderately.

According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, drinking moderately for adults of legal drinking age amounts to two drinks or less for men and one drink or less for women in a day.

What Is Alcohol Misuse?

Misusing alcohol can also cause moderate to severe hangovers. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines heavy drinking as follows:

  • Consuming more than 4 drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week (for men)
  • Consuming more than 3 drinks on any day or more than 7 drinks per week (for women)


Home Remedies for Hangovers

If you are struggling with a hangover and looking for a cure, there are a number of things you can try. Here are some simple at-home remedies to reduce the impact of hangovers.

Hydrate Your Body

Poon suggests drinking two large bottles of water first thing in the morning to set you up from the get-go. She also advises hydrating prior to sleeping, as well as intermittently during your evening. In fact, she suggests drinking at least a glass of water after every drink.

"One of the easiest ways to curb some of the symptoms of a hangover is to drink copious amounts of water as [hangovers] can be partially caused by dehydration," she explains.

Add Electrolytes to Your Hydration Mix

Electrolytes are a crucial part of hydration. They help restore balance in the body. Because drinking can cause loss of essential minerals, Poon recommends adding electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium, and potassium to your water for an extra kick to beat the hangover.

Move Your Body

A simple workout such as a stroll around the block, or a gentle yoga flow, can work wonders for a hangover. A word of caution, though, an intense workout can cause dehydration, so it's optimal to wait until you have hydrated before hitting the mat.

"Engaging in light exercise can help increase your blood flow and the release of feel-good chemicals, like endorphins, which may help lift you out of a hangover funk," Poon says.

Eat Foods That Support Your Liver

The liver works overtime to process alcohol, and so liver-supporting foods can give it a much-needed boost. Look for foods rich in antioxidants.

"Foods that support liver function include antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits (blueberries, cranberries, and grapefruit in particular), extra-virgin olive oil, and even coffee, although in moderation," says Poon.

Consider Over-the-Counter Medications

Your pharmacist should be able to advise you on what painkillers and antacids are safe to use after consuming alcohol. These products can help treat headaches, general aches, and even heartburn.

Prior to taking any over-the-counter medication, read the package carefully to ensure it is safe to consume after drinking. You should always avoid mixing substances when you can.

When to Get Help

Approximately 18 million adults in the U.S. have an alcohol use disorder (AUD), which means their drinking causes distress or harm to them or others. Here are some warning signs indicating that you should talk to a healthcare provider about your specific situation.

  • Spend a lot of time drinking or recovering from drinking
  • Find that drinking—or being hungover from drinking—interferes with your family life, job, or school
  • Experience withdrawal symptoms when the alcohol wears off such as insomnia, shakiness, irritability, restlessness, nausea, and sweating
  • Drink more or for longer than you intend to
  • Want to cut down or stop but cannot
  • Feel strong urges to drink
  • Keep drinking even though it is causing problems
  • Have stopped doing activities you once enjoyed so you can drink
  • Find yourself in dangerous situations while drinking like driving or having unsafe sex
  • Believe drinking is making you feel depressed or anxious
  • Have to drink more and more to feel the effects

A Word From Verywell

As helpful as they are in certain cases, home remedies are not always the answer to managing a hangover. Although hangovers are usually not inherently dangerous, in some situations you may need to seek care or advice from a healthcare professional, especially if your symptoms persist.

Likewise, if you or a loved one struggles with alcohol use disorder or if you are concerned about addiction, talk to a healthcare provider or contact SAMHSA. With proper management and treatment, you or your loved one will be feeling better in no time.

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8 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.
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