The harsh truth about hangovers

Published Oct 8, 2015, 4:37 am IST
Updated Mar 27, 2019, 1:52 pm IST
Studies have shown that drinkers are much more likely to smoke tobacco
A still from The Hangover Part II
 A still from The Hangover Part II

You know the symptoms: Splitting headache, shaking, nausea and general despair. Although conveniently shoved to the far recesses of your mind while you’re enjoying your night out, your hangover becomes impossible to ignore the next morning when your alarm clock is blaring in your ear. In addition to their undisputed existence, here are some more unfortunate truths about hangovers.

We're not entirely sure why we get them
Despite what friends may have told you, hangovers are not the result of dehydration or low blood sugar. The real cause is still shrouded in mystery.

They get worse with age
Another fun aspect of adulthood: Hangovers get worse as you get older. Scientists think this has to do with the depletion of enzymes that are needed to break down alcohol. Enzymes called aldehyde dehydrogenase, or ALDH, and alcohol dehydrogenase, or ADH, work together to break down the booze first into acetaldehyde, and then into a non-toxic substance called acetic acid. Without these enzymes working in full force, hangovers last longer.

You can't “SOAK UP ALCOHOL” by eating starchy foods
Despite one popular myth about a bacon sandwich being the ultimate hangover cure, there is no evidence to support the popular theory that carbs and greasy foods will cure your hangover.

It’s unlikely we will ever see a hangover free beer
A few years ago, a story about Australian scientists who were concocting a beer that wouldn’t give you a hangover made the rounds. It was believed that by adding electrolytes to the drink you could counteract alcohol’s dehydrating effects, and you’d therefore feel fine in the morning. Unfortunately, dehydration is not the cause of a hangover, so the effects would be minor at best.

Smoking makes it worse
Studies have shown that drinkers are much more likely to smoke tobacco. And that adds to the problem. The exact reason is not clear, but it could be because tobacco has acetaldehyde, a possible culprit for why we get hangovers from alcohol. In hangover terms, lighting up a cigarette could be the equivalent of knocking back another drink, and should therefore be avoided if possible.

Juice and coffeee cant save you
You might be tempted to roll out of bed and reach for the OJ or coffee, but these beverages aren’t going to do you any favours. There is no evidence that either will lessen the effects of your hangover. Plus, sugar and caffeine crashes are very real things — and are not fun when mixed with your already-throbbing headache.

Women are more likely to get hangovers
For female drinkers, the negative effects of alcohol are much more prevalent. Studies show that women are more likely to feel the effects of their drinking in the morning, especially if they didn’t eat before imbibing the night before. One survey found that 12.6 per cent of women said they almost always get a hangover after five drinks. In comparison, only 6.1 per cent of men said the same.