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Hangovers - Myths and Facts

Myths

A horrible dry mouth, drowsy feeling the morning after heavy alcohol consumption. Hangover cures from “al ko hol”, an arabic word, date back to ancient Romans, Greeks who believed that eating a Canary or Cabbage can cure Hangovers. Many people today still abide by such myths, spread by gossip and anecdotal experiences. Such myths include "salt in a strong cup of coffee (in France), “lifting the drinking arm and rubbing half a lemon under it (Puerto Rico) and even in Australia, some of us believe that eating greasy food, smoking or having lots of coffee can cure you from a hangover.

 

Here are the Facts

The feeling often referred to as a “hangover” can be the result of numerous biochemical and physiological body reactions that include the factors below.

 

Allergy

People can be allergic to content of the nature of the alcoholic beverage consumed; For example, tartrazine and sunset yellow are colouring agents often used in wines. Sodium Saccharin, Aspartame are also used as artificial sweeteners in many alcoholic beverages. People often under-estimate the effect of such allergenic reactions on the body which is confused as “hangover”. The only treatment for such hangover is an antihistamine, the same type used for “asthma or hey fever”.

 

Dehydration

Loss of water is concomitant to excessive consumption of alcohol. The drug alcohol inhibits the release of ADH (or Anti-Diuretic Hormone) within the body. This “thirst” hormone keeps water within the body and its inhibition by alcohol enables the body to release its stores of water. Therefore, despite the perpetuated myth that alcohol or a beer can quench your thirst, in fact, drinking it makes the individual thirstier. So resulting headache and ugly “dry horrors” the following morning often referred to as ‘bottom of a cockie’s cage” is in fact dehydration from alcohol. The best cure for that is drinking plenty of water, before, during and after consuming alcoholic beverages.

 

Metabolism

Alcohol's metabolism by the liver releases byproducts such as acetaldehyde, which in fact, is more poisonous to the system than alcohol itself. Fortunately, acetaldehyde is not allowed to hang around too much under normal circumstances of moderate alcohol consumption, however, when an individual consumes copious amounts of alcohol, acetaldehyde tends to persist in the system longer than normal creating a semi-poisonous reaction characterised by nausea and vomiting. The cure for such reaction is drinking lots of water and food consumption in order to speed up the rate of degradation of alcohol.

 

Withdrawal

Alcohol, an addictive drug, triggers withdrawal the following morning. In other words, sleeping and abstaining from alcohol whilst asleep, is itself not accepted by the body of an alcoholic. Therefore, a withdrawal reaction is triggered which is referred to as “Withdrawal Syndrome”, usually the following morning whenever the body's BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) falls below a certain level. This reaction is also characterised as a “hangover feeling of headache (mild reaction), to trimmers of the hand and jitters (moderate reaction) to hallucinations and “rum fits” (severe reaction). Ironically, the cure to withdrawal is to calm the body’s violent rejection of abstinence, by giving it what it needs and wants, namely, alcohol. Naturally, this causes a person to relapse back into daily drinking to simply be and act “normal”.

 

Women

Women are more sensitive to alcohol than men for all the above reasons. A woman’s body, by nature, holds more fat and less water. A woman’s liver contains less of the enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase, and is in turn less capable in metabolising and degrading alcohol. Finally, a woman’s body is smaller in size and contains less muscle which in turn leads to a higher BAC and bigger level of drunkenness for the same level ofconsumption compared to her male counterpart.

 

Dr. Kadawi's Recommendations

Drink in moderation (no more than 6 SD on any one day, even if you drink once a year), It is not how often you consume alcohol that matters, it is how much.

 

Always drink on a a moderately full stomac.

 

Drink plenty of water, before, during and after consuming alcohol.

 

And... Be safe, Be moderate and KNOW YOUR LIMIT.

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Latest Blog & News

Hangovers - Myths and Facts
29 Apr 2015
Myths A horrible dry mouth, drowsy feeling the morning after heavy alcohol consumption. Hangover cures from “al ko hol”, an arabic word, date back to ancient Romans, Greeks who believed... Read full article...