Prevention, not cure, is the way to handle hangovers

Prince Frederick, MD - New Year’s Eve might be the most universal occasion for overdrinking. Indeed, in certain locations like New Orleans, Mardi gras rivals New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day is another day of excessive celebration for elbow-benders. However, everyone everywhere rings in the New Year. So how to spend that first day of the new year as a lucid, functioning human being? That’s the number one health issue of this occasion.

The two obvious tactics are sobriety (abstaining from drink) or moderation. If you are certain you are going to have a few drinks at that New Year’s Eve party some pre-revelry strategy might help.

Remember, drinkers, water is your friend. Consuming water in addition to beer, wine and liquor is a good idea. Consuming 16 to 20 ounces of water before (finally) going to bed is another recommended remedy. “Alcohol is a diuretic and can cause dehydration,” the Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, who suggested ordering a glass of water with each glass of beer.

One remedy that most physicians don’t recommend is commonly referred to as “hair of the dog,” a colloquial expression that advocates drinking alcohol to lessen the impact of a hangover. “Hangovers make you feel horrible because alcohol is toxic,” stated Dr. Charles Cutler, the chairman of the American College of Physicians’ Board of Governors. Cutler also stated that the old myth that consuming “greasy food” the day after would cure your hangover is bound to backfire. Greasy food “will only give you heartburn,” said Cutler. Having breakfast the day after over-imbibing is a good idea, however, and Culter recommends “easy-to-digest” foods like toast or cereal.

On the subject of food, Barbara Brownwell-Grogan, one of the three Everyday Health columnists known as “The Remedy Chicks,” suggested eating some fatty food like pizza before you start drinking is a good idea. Brownwell-Grogan stated this would “grease the intestines” so that alcohol would take longer to absorb.

In addition to moderation, Dr. George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism urges revelers “don’t light up and drink.” In other words don’t smoke and drink.  

Here’s hoping your New Year’s Eve is a night you will remember, the next morning and throughout the new year!

Contact Marty Madden at

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