Hang Over Sloopy, Sloopy Hang On!

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Where's my liver? (CDC)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published a new report on binge drinking in the US, especially among 18-24 year-olds, and the results are concerning.  Read more about it here.  This brings to mind a question we received from a student a few years ago:

Q: My 21st birthday was yesterday. I went out drinking with my friends and now I have a horrible hangover. What kind of things can I do to get rid of it?

A: Hangovers are still not completely understood by the medical community, but we have a pretty good idea that they come from a combination of dehydration, low blood sugar, and buildup of alcohol breakdown products in your system. Despite all the dubious home remedies out there – a beer in the morning (a little hair of the dog that bit you), those bogus pills sold in gas stations, McDonald’s fish sandwiches (?) – nothing has been scientifically proven to cure hangovers.  However, a few things can help.

The first thing you can do is keep hydrated. Next time you’re at the bar, try to drink a glass of water on the rocks in between drinks. Also remember to drink a nice big glass before you go to bed. This will help counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol.

The best thing to do on the morning after is replace the glucose and electrolytes that you have lost. This can be done with a glass of orange juice or Powerade. Another thing to do is exercise. Some studies have shown that increasing tissue oxygenation through exercise has a beneficial effect on curing hangovers.

While these steps can help with a hangover, the only proven way to prevent one is to abstain or at least drink in moderation. Party Smart here at Ohio State has more information about responsible drinking, the effects of alcohol and the local laws governing its use.

If you are worried that your drinking is starting to cause you problems, you can talk to us here at Student Health or our friends at the OSU Counseling and Consultation Service and Student Wellness Center. We are all here to help you.

John Vaughn (OSU Student Health Services)

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