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How to Get Rid of a Hangover

Can You Actually Cure a Hangover?

Hangovers begin when blood alcohol levels start falling. The worst symptoms are experienced when the alcohol blood count reaches zero.

Common symptoms of a hangover include:

  • Fatigue1
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Thirst
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

Despite the high prevalence of hangover symptoms, there is no specific hangover cure. 

Hangovers occur due to the following:

  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Low blood sugar
  • Dehydration
  • Alcohol withdrawal syndrome
  • Stomach and intestine inflammation
  • Expansion of blood vessels causing headaches
  • Sleeping problems

Hangover remedies aim to get rid of these symptoms. However, there isn’t any standard guideline for treating them.

How Long Do Hangovers Last?

Usually, a hangover will last up to 24 hours or more, depending on various factors.

Factors that influence the duration of a hangover include:

  • The type and amount of alcohol consumed
  • How often you drink alcohol (tolerance) 
  • Level of hydration before drinking
  • Underlying health conditions such as kidney and liver disease
  • Biological factors such as age and sex
  • Genetic make-up
  • Certain medications such as antidepressants and antibiotics

11 Best Ways to Get Rid of a Hangover (According to Science)

There are various ways to get rid of hangovers. They range from home remedies to evidence-based methods.

Some are better than others, but there isn’t an actual cure for hangovers. 

The only way to eliminate hangovers is to allow your body time to remove the alcohol from your system. 

However, there are things you can do to help your body manage the symptoms better.

Below are 11 best hangover remedies you can try:

1. Take Medications

There is limited research on hangover medications. 

However, some over-the-counter medicines can be used to get rid of some hangover symptoms.2 

For example, an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen and aspirin can treat headaches and muscle pains associated with severe hangovers.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin effectively eliminate muscle aches and pains associated with hangovers.

It is recommended that you use NSAIDs with caution because they can potentially increase the risk of gastritis, abdominal pain, and nausea in some people.

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2. Hydrate Your Body

Alcohol is a diuretic in nature. This means it increases the amount of urine eliminated in the body.

Loss of body fluid in this process causes an electrolyte imbalance and dehydration. This plays a significant role in producing hangover symptoms such as headaches.

Drinking water and other soft drinks while consuming alcohol rehydrates the body and may prevent severe withdrawal symptoms.3

Scientists also recommend intravenous (IV) hydration infusions as a hangover remedy to restore lost electrolytes, potassium, and sodium.4

3. Asian Ginseng

Ginseng is a Chinese medicine that has been used for thousands of years. 

It has active ingredients that can treat alcohol toxicity and hangovers.5 

Studies have shown that red ginseng is particularly effective in treating hangover symptoms.6

Siberian ginseng can relieve hangover symptoms such as dizziness, headache, and fatigue.

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4. Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Alcohol consumption lowers blood sugar levels that contribute to hangovers. 

Eating in the morning can help boost your normal blood sugar levels.7

Drink water and eat electrolyte-rich foods such as chicken, soups, vegetables, watermelon, and strawberries.

Scrambled eggs can also introduce some amino acids into your system to counteract the toxic effects of alcohol.

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5. Consume Antioxidants

Alcohol causes oxidative stress. This leads to increased production of free radicals.

Free radicals lead to several health conditions such as cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants help remove free radicals from the body.8

Eating foods rich in antioxidants such as dark-colored fruits and vegetables reduces the negative effects of alcohol.

6. Consume Carbohydrates

Alcohol lowers blood glucose levels, denying your body the energy it requires to function.9

Take some toast or bagel to add some calories to your blood. This will help boost your energy levels even when you feel queasy and tired.

However, avoid salty and oily carbohydrates such as chips because they can upset your stomach.

7.  Get Enough sleep

After a night of drinking, rest and quality sleep are the best medicine for your hangover. 

Even though alcohol induces sleep, excessive consumption can affect sleep quality.10 Poor sleep can induce symptoms such as irritability, headaches, and fatigue.

Get a good night’s sleep to allow your body to recover, restore energy, and make the hangover bearable. 

8. Drink Tea or Coffee

Coffee and caffeinated drinks are stimulants. 

They induce the production of dopamine, a feel-good hormone. This eliminates grogginess and promotes alertness.11

However, caffeine is also a diuretic, meaning it has the potential to dehydrate your body and make your hangover worse. 

Although coffee can help with some symptoms, it may not provide much relief.

Black and green tea also contain antioxidants that reduce the adverse effects of alcohol.

9. Try Some Ginger

The stomach lining is irritated by alcohol, resulting in an upset stomach. 

If you’re seeking a natural cure to relieve stomach pain, consider ginger. It aids digestion and might even increase your energy levels. 

In one study, ginger was shown to lower vomiting by 60 percent and fatigue by 80 percent among cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.12

Drinking ginger tea is also an easy approach to soothe your system and alleviate hangover symptoms, including vomiting and fatigue.

10. Take vitamins

Alcohol is associated with the depletion of amino acids, vitamins, fatty acids, proteins, minerals, and enzymes from the body.  

According to studies, taking Vitamin B can significantly reduce hangover symptoms.13 Vitamin B and vitamin C are known to combat low energy and fatigue.

Choose B-1, B-6, and B-12 supplements to improve your metabolism and restore the B vitamins you lost after a night of drinking.

11.  Hair of the Dog

Drinking to relieve hangover symptoms is referred to as “taking the hair of the dog.” 

Although not fully backed by science, the idea is that hangovers are a form of alcohol withdrawal.14 In this case, drinking more alcohol would alleviate the hangover symptoms.

When you consume alcohol, methanol is converted into formaldehyde, a toxic substance that may induce certain hangover symptoms.

When you have a hangover, taking alcohol may block the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol,  preventing the creation of formaldehyde. 

Methanol is therefore safely eliminated from the body instead of forming formaldehyde. This can help ease hangover symptoms.

In addition to a hangover, regular drinking is harmful to your health. If you suspect that you’re suffering from alcohol use disorder (AUD), avoid alcohol and seek addiction treatment immediately.

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Updated on April 18, 2022
14 sources cited
  1. Hangovers,” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER), 16 Dec. 2017
  2. McCallum K. “Hangover Cures: No, They're Not Real — Here's What to Try Instead,”  Houston Methodist, 22 Dec. 2020
  3. Hangover cures,” National health Service (NHS-UK), 6 Jan. 2020
  4. Shallow P. “Does IV therapy really cure hangovers?,” CBS News, 21 Apr. 2015
  5. Are Hangover Cures Urban Myths? Or Do Some Actually Work?,” Cleveland Clinic 
  6. Wang F. et al.“Natural Products for the Prevention and Treatment of Hangover and Alcohol Use Disorder,” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 07 Jan. 2016
  7. Manning-Schaffel V. “What you should eat if you have a hangover,’ NBC News, 20 Dec. 2017
  8. Defeng Wu, & Arthur I. “Alcohol, Oxidative Stress, and Free Radical Damage,” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Oct. 2004
  9. Benjamin C. T. et al. “The Effect of Evening Alcohol Consumption on Next-Morning Glucose Control in Type 1 Diabetes,” American diabetes association, Nov. 2001
  10. Hangovers,”Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER), 16, Dec 2017
  11. Coffee and hangovers: Coffee has been suggested as a potential remedy for hangovers in the popular media, but is this really the case?,``Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee May. 2019
  12. Marx W. et al. “The Effect of a Standardized Ginger Extract on Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea-Related Quality of Life in Patients Undergoing Moderately or Highly Emetogenic Chemotherapy,’ National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 09 Aug. 2017
  13. Verster J. C. et al. “Dietary Nutrient Intake, Alcohol Metabolism, and Hangover Severity,’ National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 27 Aug. 2019
  14. Owen L.“Does hair of the dog actually work?,” BBC Food

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