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Looking for a Hangover Cure? One Doctor Says Good Luck

woman in bed with wine glass
Neha Pathak, MD - Blogs
By Neha Pathak, MDBoard-certified internistDecember 31, 2018

The sun is up but you’re still in bed … feeling weak, dizzy, nauseated. You move slightly and now your head is pounding even more, your heart feels like it’s beating too fast, the light is hurting your eyes, and all of a sudden …. you have got to throw up. Then, this cycle repeats for a few more hours.

Remember this feeling every time you plan to enjoy a night of drinking and you’ll never go through a morning hangover like this again. From now on, you’ll stick to your limits (and only drink in moderation), eat a full meal before you start to drink, drink lots of water throughout the night, and get a full night of restful sleep after all the fun.

This is, by far, the best hangover cure out there. And it’s free!

But, if it’s too late and you’re in the middle of an intense hangover, all you can do is manage the pain and give your body the time it needs to feel better. There really is no magic hangover cure, but here are some ways to tackle symptoms:

  • Sip on Water and Juice: The dizziness and thirst usually come on because alcohol can make you pee more than normal, making you dehydrated. Sipping on water or juice and drinking soup can help you get back the fluid and electrolytes you need. A lot of people reach for sports drinks and children’s electrolyte solutions or fizzling powders (think Pedialyte), but there is no evidence that these work any faster or better for hydrating.

Some people are hyping an even more expensive option known as IV therapy for faster relief for hangover symptoms. The idea here is that you find a place to get an injection of fluids and electrolytes directly into your veins. While this option has a high cost (along with risks for infection), there are no studies to show that it is worth the expense or the risks. If you are sick enough to need an IV, you should seek care at a medical facility.

  • Avoid the “Hair of the Dog”: I still don’t understand why it’s called the “hair of the dog,” but we do know that drinking more alcohol to treat a hangover can make you feel even worse.
  • Munch on Bland Foods: The nausea and vomiting comes on, in part, from alcohol irritating the lining of your stomach. If you can munch on bland foods like toast and crackers along with the soup, this can help settle your stomach. Some people really crave fatty, greasy foods to deal with their hangovers. If that’s what you need, go for it. But take it easy and eat slowly, to make sure you can actually stomach it.
  • Sleep it Off: The light sensitivity, fatigue, headache and general grogginess can come on from the effects on your brain. Alcohol also interferes with your ability to get to the restorative stages of sleep, so staying in bed and trying to get more shuteye can help you feel better.
  • Be Careful with OTC Pain Meds: The general aches and pains, along with the headache, might make you reach for an over the counter pain reliever. Just remember to limit this medicine as much as you can because medicines like aspirin and ibuprofen can irritate your stomach even more. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can lead to severe liver damage, especially for those people who often drink too much.

At the end of the day, it’s time, rest, and liquids that will get you back on your feet. But the ultimate hangover cure just might be learning from previous experiences and sticking to your limits. If you find that hangovers are becoming a frequent problem, it’s time to talk with your doctor about cutting back (or avoiding alcohol altogether.)

Here’s to drinking in moderation, having a great night, and an even better morning … Cheers!

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About the Author
Neha Pathak, MD

Neha Pathak, MD, is a board-certified internal medicine doctor and part of WebMD's team of medical editors responsible for ensuring the accuracy of health information on the site. Before joining WebMD, Pathak worked as a primary care physician at the Department of Veterans Affairs and was an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University in Atlanta.

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