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Alcohol is the developed world’s drink of choice. However, with alcohol comes a hangover, the results of having one too many drinks. Over the years, people have come up with numerous therapies to cope with this terrible feeling. While most are outrageous and hold no scientific backing, a few have been tried and found to be quite effective.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s definition of a hangover is the body’s response to heavy alcohol indulgence. Common symptoms include muscle pains, headaches, stomach pains, hunger, exhaustion, nausea, and sensitivity to noise, light among other things.

A hangover can be mild or severe depending on several factors, including your body’s ability to absorb and dispense alcohol, your physiology, and how quickly you drank. Vomiting symptoms increase the severity of a hangover.

What causes hangovers?

According to the NIAAA, there are several causes of a hangover:

Sleep disruption: People who consume alcohol can fall asleep faster. However, their sleep appears to be fragmented, and they wake up earlier. As a result, they are exhausted and less productive.

Mild dehydration: Alcohol disrupts the production of vasopressin, a hormone in the brain that regulates how the kidneys store urine. This leads to urine and fluid loss leading to dehydration and ultimately hangover symptoms like thirst,  headaches, and exhaustion.

Gastrointestinal irritation: Alcohol irritates intestinal and stomach walls and effectively increases acid production. This causes stomach pains and nausea.

Inflammation: Alcohol causes inflammation all over the body. Its digestion by the liver produces a short-lived poisonous by-product, acetaldehyde, which causes inflammation in the pancreas, liver, gastrointestinal tract, brain, and other organs.

Mini-Withdrawal: When people are drunk, they feel calmer and more relaxed, and when the brain is unable to find a balance, it quickly responds to the positive feelings. When the buzz eventually wears off, people feel more anxious and restless than they did before they drank.

Proven hangover remedies

According to Harvard Medical School, there’s no complete cure for a hangover, but there are a few things you can do to reduce its severity and speed up your recovery:

  • Take a fruit tea instead of caffeinated drinks like coffee.
  • The hair of the dog. Take some fresh alcohol to minimize the effects of the hangover.
  • Use painkillers but avoid Tylenol.
  • Drink a lot of water.