A hangover is the unpleasant symptoms a person has after drinking too much alcohol.
Symptoms can include:
- Headache and dizziness
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Rapid heartbeat
- Depression, anxiety and irritability
Tips for safe drinking and preventing a hangover:
- Drink slowly and on a full stomach. If you are a small person, the effects of alcohol are greater on you than on a larger person.
- Drink in moderation. Women should have no more than 1 drink per day and men no more than 2 drinks per day. One drink is defined as 12 fluid ounces (360 milliliters) of beer that has about 5% alcohol, 5 fluid ounces (150 milliliters) of wine that has about 12% alcohol, or 1 1/2 fluid ounces (45 milliliters) of 80-proof liquor.
- Drink a glass of water in between drinks containing alcohol. This will help you drink less alcohol, and decrease dehydration from drinking alcohol.
- Avoid alcohol completely to prevent hangovers.
If you have a hangover, consider the following for relief:
- Certain measures, such as fruit juice or honey, have been recommended to treat a hangover. But there is very little scientific evidence to show that such measures help. Recovery from a hangover is usually just a matter of time. Most hangovers are gone within 24 hours.
- Electrolyte solutions (such as sports drinks) and bouillon soup are good for replacing the salt and potassium you lose from drinking alcohol.
- Get plenty of rest. Even if you feel good the morning after heavy drinking, the lasting effects of alcohol reduce your ability to perform at your best.
- Avoid taking any medicines for your hangover that contain acetaminophen (such as Tylenol). Acetaminophen may cause liver damage when combined with alcohol.
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O'Connor PG. Alcohol use disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 33.