Part of being young is being stupid, and anyone who tells you that he or she has never gotten drunk is either lying, boring, a Mormon, or some combination thereof. But just because so many people get drunk doesn't make it OK. A recent survey found that 3 out of every 5 college students have engaged in binge drinking. Binge drinking completely thrashes your liver and kidneys, not to mention puts you at risk of death via alcohol overdose. But you don't need us lecturing at you you know that massive drinking is bad. How do you know? Because your mother tells you - no, not Mother Goose... Mother Nature.
A nasty hangover is Mother Nature's way of telling you, "Fool, I thought I told you not to drink so much. Now you gonna pay." (Don't ask us why Mother Nature sounds like Mr. T.) Hangovers can completely incapacitate you, giving you an upset stomach, a huge headache, a gross-tasting mouth, and a guilty conscience. So what we've constructed for you are some tips for easing the pain and curing that hangover. We only expect you to use this article once. If you find that you need our help to cure your hangovers every weekend (no matter how happy all those page views will make us), we insist that you contact Alcoholics Anonymous right away. People (especially those in their 20s) usually revel in binge drinking, but it really can be life-threatening.
1. Understand what alcohol does to your bodyThey don't call it intoxication for nothing. Happy juice is poisonous. Put enough of it into your body and you die. What concerns us here, however, is not so much alcohol itself (which we'll take as a given) but the by-products of alcohol, and especially one particularly nasty chemical critter by the name of acetaldehyde. It's got a lot more of the bad kind of kapow, and the latest research suggests that it may be responsible for the worst of your hangover.
After you ingest alcohol, your body breaks it down into (among other things) acetaldehyde, before converting it into less harmful substances. The acetaldehyde messes with your brain at the same time as a host of depleted minerals are short-circuiting your nervous system, and that's in addition to low blood sugar and the classic headache-and-dry-mouth symptoms caused by dehydration. The result: nausea, twitchy nerves, unpleasantness, pessimism, terrible brain pain, and a temporary suspension of the laws of gravity.
The severity of a hangover varies according to . . .
- The amount you've guzzled in a given period of time
- Your own innate enzymatic capacity to deal with the poisons
- Your age
Translation: the more you drink in a short amount of time, the more you'll feel the alcohol. One's weight is also a factor (the less you weigh, the more you'll feel it), as is a genetic predisposition. Finally, the older you get, the more you'll feel the alcohol the next morning.