By: Jamie Jablonowski, RN, BSN
Follow me on Twitter! @jamiejab
You’re not sure what hurts more: the fake eyelashes still stuck to your face scratching the surface of your eyeball or the idea of getting out of bed to throw up for the eighth time. You blame the excess of bubbles in the champagne, seeing your ex at the bar, and the 6 AM Chinese food binge. While all of these might have been contributing factors, you feel like wet dog food because you drank too much. Here’s why your body turned on you and how to get back on its good side:
Everyone metabolizes alcohol differently which is why everyone’s hangovers are not the same. Genetics and gender (discussed in 6 Facts Every Man Should Know About A Woman’s Body) both play a role and are the reason you’re still in bed and your roommate is at Crossfit. The effects your feeling post drinking are a result of a few different reactions taking place in your body. Alcohol makes you urinate more frequently and thus leads to dehydration, which is why you might feel thirsty, weak or lightheaded and also the reason there’s such long lines at the club for the bathroom. In addition, alcohol increases stomach acid which can lead to nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Drinking alcohol can also lower your blood sugar resulting in fatigue, weakness, and changes in your mood. Sleep is also affected. While alcohol can make you feel tired, it reduces the quality of your sleep and disrupts your circadian rhythm.
There’s no magic pill to turn you back into a human from the blob of flesh and regret that is laying in your bed right now. Sleep, though, will help. So will drinking water to help with dehydration. Bouillon soup can also be beneficial, as it will help replenish lost electrolytes, specifically sodium and potassium. Along with drinking fluids, eating bland foods can help make your stomach feel better. As for that pounding headache, you can take an over the counter pain reliever, but non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil) can upset your stomach further and there’s a risk of hurting your liver when taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) and drinking heavily.
Sometimes a hangover can turn into something more serious. If you or someone you know experiences confusion, persistent vomiting, seizures, slow or irregular breathing, blue-tinged or pale skin, low body temperature, or unconsciousness, you need to call 9-1-1 immediately.
Preventing This Misery In The Future
Hangovers are not a higher power’s punishment for going out on a Tuesday night. They are your fault and they are preventable. Eating before you go out can help absorb the alcohol, so eat a meal before pounding shots. I know it’s hard to eat a burger when you’re about to put on a little black dress, but that’s why they invented Spanx. Plus, nothing looks less cute than puke in your hair. Next, avoid the cigarettes. Studies have shown that drinking and nicotine makes hangovers worse. In addition, darker colored alcoholic beverages might be more likely to give you a hangover the next day. Bourbon, scotch, tequila, brandy, dark beers, and red wine are more likely to make you hate yourself in the morning than lighter colored drinks such as light-colored beer, gin, and vodka.
Now time to get up and get some Taco Bell. You need your energy to apologize for those drunk texts or at the very least analyze the ones you received. Welcome to 2014, it’s going to be a good year so put on your big girl panties, or at the very least a pair of pants. Hopefully, this will be the year you learn self control.