A night of drinking is a blast — until you wake up the next morning with a pounding headache and a severe bout of nausea. Researchers aren't entirely sure what causes a hangover, but drinking to the point of intoxication is most certainly a big factor.
Although an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in the case of vomiting caused by a hangover, there are some measure you can take to stem the pain.
What's Going On?
Technically called veisalgia, a hangover caused by ingesting alcohol may leave the drinker with dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, drowsiness and involuntary vomiting.
Since alcohol dehydrates the body, the loss of more liquid in vomiting can further exacerbate the symptoms. At the same time, alcohol still in the system is being rejected by vomiting and can be part of the “cure,” however unpleasant.
Enjoy Some Carbs
Don't go crazy on the food front, as it's likely to make your nausea even worse. However, some bland carbohydrates — say, saltines or toast — can help your stomach settle. Additionally, eating carbohydrates help get your blood sugar levels back to normal, after they're depleted from drinking too much.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Clear liquids will help move the alcohol out of the body. Sports drinks with electrolytes as well as plain old water can help the process and dilute some of the effects. However, it takes time for the alcohol effect to leave. Avoid coffee and caffeinated drinks because they act as a diuretic, further dehydrate your system and give a false sense of alertness.
A cup of warm ginger tea can also help settle your stomach. Make it by adding a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger root to one cup of boiling water. Let it steep for 10 minutes, and the strain out the pieces of ginger.
If you're feeling a little hungry, you can also enjoy a bowl of clear soup like chicken noodle or Vietnamese pho. This not only replenishes your sodium, but also hydrates you. The noodles help your blood sugar levels, too.
Read more: Does Exercise Help Get Rid of Hangovers?
Take Deep Breaths
If all you can manage is lying down in bed, roll onto your back and practice some controlled deep breathing. Taking deep breaths from your diaphragm activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which keeps nausea in check. Take a breath in through your nose, deep into your lungs, as your abdomen expands. Exhale slowly through your mouth and relax your belly.
Richard Nilsen writes poetry, fiction, features and news stories in upstate New York. He was an emergency mental-health consultant for 20 years and directed a mentoring agency for a decade. Nilsen is a black-fly control technician in the Adirondack Park, where he enjoys hiking, biking and boating.