Christmas for many of us is a time of celebration. There seems to be a steady flow of parties over the festive season – from work dos, to family reunions and nights out with friends. What ever the occasion or event, booze seems to invariably feature. In fact it is difficult to avoid alcohol at this time of year and things can easily get out of hand when you are in the midst of revelries. Not only are there obvious risks, especially in terms of personal safety when drunk, but also the effects felt the following day are unpleasant (to say the least).
The reason that hangovers develop is complicated. Alcohol is a mild diuretic and drinking too much can result in dehydration. This causes the stereotypical pounding headache many of us experience. There is also evidence that alcohol negatively affect the immune system and triggers inflammation. In addition, alcohol acts as an irritant to the stomach and slows down the gut, leading to nausea and even vomiting.
So what are the best ways to keep your self safe and avoid writing-off the next day?
The most obvious tip is to keep a careful watch on how much alcohol you consume. Alcohol is usually measured in units and current government guidelines suggest that men should not consume more than three to four units per day and women two to three . This equates to around a pint and a half for chaps and a regular (175 ml) glass of wine for women. Drinking on a full stomach makes a difference to how fast alcohol is absorbed into the system – so make sure you eat something before painting the town red. Alternating soft drinks with alcoholic ones can be a helpful trick; allowing you to enjoy the party feeling whilst staying firmly in control. If you really struggle keeping a lid on your alcohol intake, why not offer to drive and avoid boozing altogether? If you know you’ve probably indulged a bit too much, then drinking a large glass of water before hitting the sack is a sensible plan.
If despite your best efforts you wake up the next morning feeling less than perky, keeping the fluids going the next morning is really important. Eating something light and simple is also helpful in settling dodgy stomachs, and vitamin-rich bananas, kiwis and prickly pears are claimed to be particularly helpful. It goes without saying that ‘hair of the dog’ is definitely not a recommended hangover cure. Also try to have at least 48 hours off the sauce before drinking again, as this allows time for your liver to recover.
Try to follow these tips as much as possible, so you can party in style whilst keeping yourself healthy and safe. Cheers!
Dr Jessica Garner is a GP and health blogger. Visit her blog here.