Many people enjoy having drinks on their birthday, New Year's Eve or other special occasions. However, many of those same people end up feeling none too well the day after imbibing alcohol. Choosing certain types of alcoholic beverages over others, as well as employing a few other strategies, can help you avoid or reduce next-day hangover symptoms.
You can identify a hangover by the physical symptoms you experience the day after consuming alcohol. A mild hangover may involve fatigue and a dry mouth. A more severe hangover may involve headache, nausea and vomiting. Many of the symptoms of hangovers are caused by dehydration. The other unpleasant features of hangovers are caused by impurities in alcohol, specifically acetaldehyde and congeners.
The best way to avoid a hangover is to drink no alcohol, or only small amounts of it. However, choosing specific kinds of alcohol and drinking water between alcoholic drinks will also help reduce the chances of having a hangover. Cheaper wines tend to produce more hangovers than more expensive types, because cheaper wine contains more impurities. For the same reason, white wines and light-colored liquors tend to produce less hangover symptoms than darker drinks. And drinking water or juice after each alcoholic beverage will help avoid symptoms caused by dehydration.
Vodka in general is a good choice, since it is light-colored and tends to contain fewer congeners than liquors such as scotch or tequila. As with other alcoholic beverages, more expensive brands tend to have fewer impurities that contribute to hangover symptoms. Some middle- to top-tier brands of vodka that tend to be distilled multiple times--and which tend to have fewer impurities--include Absolut, Belvedere, Stolichnaya, Grey Goose, Ketel One and Armadale.
Another method of avoiding hangovers is to space out your drinks so you are consuming no more than one per hour. If you do end up with hangover symptoms the day after consuming alcohol, the symptoms can last from a few hours to more than a day, depending on how much alcohol was consumed and how aggressively you treat the hangover symptoms with water and pain medication.
If you do end up with a hangover, several actions will help you get over the symptoms more quickly. First, get adequate sleep. Second, rehydrate with water and juice, and don't overdo it on on the caffeine. Third, engage in some mild exercise, like taking a brief walk. It will often help ease the symptoms of a hangover by getting the blood circulating and removing toxins from your system.
While it may be tempting to pop acetaminophen to take the edge off a hangover headache, the use of this painkiller is hard on the liver. Since drinking alcohol to excess is also hard on the liver, combining alcohol and acetaminophen is a one-two punch to that organ. If you do want to take a painkiller for hangover symptoms, wait until you wake up the next day, rather than popping the pill when you still have alcohol in your system. Ibuprofen tends to be kinder to your liver, though it can be irritating to the lining of your stomach.
Sarah Rigg has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and philosophy from Western Michigan University. She taught technical writing at WMU for several years and has been writing and editing for more than a decade. Rigg won awards for her creative writing and for her work at community newspapers.