Our lager, Which art in barrels,
Hallowed be thy drink.
Thy will be drunk, (I will be drunk), At home as it is in the pub.
Give us this day our foamy head, And forgive us our spillages, As we forgive those who spill against us.
And lead us not to incarceration, But deliver us from hangovers. For thine is The beer, The bitter, The lager.
Forever and ever,
The things they say at the spotos!
I doubt if there is anyone who does not know what a hangover is; many have been marooned by one.
Hangovers are an employer’s nightmare as employees fall prey to this self inflicted condition. Monday mornings must rank as the most unpopular periods of time at work for both employer and employee.
A hangover is “the sum of unpleasant physiological effects following heavy consumption of drugs, particularly alcoholic beverages.” Thus, even after a drinker has sobered up, alcohol still continues to harass the body. Unfortunately, for the employer, sleeping off a hangover is the best way for your body to cope during those painful hours.
Veisalgia, the formal name for a hangover, is from the Norwegian word for “uneasiness following debauchery” (kveis) and the Greek word for “pain” (algia) ÔÇô ‘an appropriate title considering the uncomfortable symptoms experienced by the average drinker.’
Most common among the reported characteristics of a hangover are headache, nausea, lethargy, sensitivity to light and noise, and thirst. Hangovers usually last 12 to 36 hours although some have been reported to last 48 to 72 hours after alcohol was last consumed.
An on-line advisor says that a hangover is caused by “a combination of the toxic by-product of alcohol metabolism (acetaldehyde), dehydration, and Vitamin A, B (particularly B6) and C depletion caused by the chemical action of alcohol on your system.” Drinkers have experienced the symptoms, usually a dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, dizziness and headache caused by a combination of these factors.
“The most common symptoms are headache, fatigue and dehydration, and the least common is trembling,” writes Lacy Perry (How stuffworks). “The severity and number of symptoms varies from person to person; however, it is generally true that the more alcohol a drinker consumes, the worse the hangover will be.”
Apart from the obvious toxic effects, he says, a drinker ought to realise they’re suffering the effects of a mild overdose of a depressant drug and the nerves are reacting accordingly, and you have also flushed a significant quantity of vitamins and nutrients from your system “causing a degree of metabolic shock that your body is struggling to compensate against.” This is why hangover symptoms often include disorientation and “the jitters”.
Perry says it usually takes five to seven cocktails over the course of four to six hours to cause a hangover for a light-to-moderate drinker. He says it may take more alcohol for heavier drinkers because of increased tolerance.
“It is not only the amount of alcohol consumed that aggreviates hangovers. Hangovers can be made worse by drinking on an empty stomach, lack of sleep, increased physical activity while drinking (like dancing, for example), dehydration before drinking and poor health.”
Researchers concede that the reason for some symptoms isn’t fully understood, but scientists have a pretty good understanding of the primary causes of a hangover.
Alcohol is a diuretic; it speeds the loss of water from the body – causing parched-mouth thirst, headaches and that feeling of continual dizziness. Nausea, vomiting and indigestion are caused by alcohol irritating the stomach lining.
“The severity of a hangover is related to the blood alcohol level you reach, how rapidly you drink, and the amount you drink,” said Dennis Twombly, program director of the Division of Neuroscience and Behavior at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). “After the alcohol has been cleared from the system, a hangover can last for 8 to 24 hours, depending on how much you’ve consumed.”
Obviously, a night’s indulgence means you’ll feel tired the following morning. This is made worse as your body organs try to sort out the disruption you’ve caused, which also uses up energy.
“When alcohol is consumed,” says Perry, “it enters the bloodstream and causes the pituitary gland in the brain to block the creation of vasopressin (also known as the antidiuretic hormone). Without this chemical, the kidneys send water directly to the bladder instead of reabsorbing it into the body. This is why drinkers have to make frequent trips to the bathroom after urinating for the first time after drinking.”
It is reported that drinking about 250 milliliters of an alcoholic beverage causes the body to expel 800 to 1,000 milliliters of water; that’s four times as much liquid lost as gained. This diuretic effect decreases as the alcohol in the bloodstream decreases, but the aftereffects help create a hangover.
“The morning after heavy drinking, the body sends a desperate message to replenish its water supply ÔÇö usually manifested in the form of an extremely dry mouth. Headaches result from dehydration because the body’s organs try to make up for their own water loss by stealing water from the brain, causing the brain to decrease in size and pull on the membranes that connect the brain to the skull, resulting in pain.” Mama Mia! It’s a tough cycle for those who think everyday is an alcoholiday.
Obviously, hangovers are no fun. But despite knowing this, every day someone wakes up to a spinning room, heavy eye-lids and a thumping headache. We continue to drink even though we know that alcohol causes a hangover.
So is there anything we can do to prevent or lessen the effects of a hangover? Not drinking is the best form of prevention… but let’s be realistic. Dehydration is responsible for most of the nastier effects of a hangover. As earlier mentioned, alcohol is a diuretic and so speeds the loss of water from the body. To prevent a hangover, we must avoid dehydration; we must protect the stomach lining and take it easy as far as the amount of alcohol we drink is concerned.
“Before you go out, eat a good meal,” says Perry. “On this occasion only, a fatty one is beneficial as fat is digested slowly and will protect the stomach from the irritating effects of alcohol. A glass of milk also protects the stomach and slows the absorption of alcohol. Having food in the stomach also decreases stomach irritation, in turn reducing the likelihood that a drinker will vomit.”
It is recommended that while you’re out, you should alternate water or non-fizzy soft drinks with alcoholic ones to limit the amount of alcohol you consume. Fizzy drinks should be avoided as they increase the amount of alcohol getting into the bloodstream.
There’s a theory that substances called congeners found in wine and spirit colourings and additives magnify the effects of a hangover and irritate the stomach lining. This may be why white wines and clear spirits such as vodka are said to cause fewer hangovers.
Walking home in the fresh air after a night out can help to reduce the effects of a hangover but personally, I wouldn’t try it. There is nothing more enticing, even to amateur muggers, than a drunkard trying to negotiate his way home at night. It is recommended, however, that before you go to bed, you ought to drink at least a pint of water and some orange juice since vitamin C speeds up the metabolism of alcohol by the liver.
A company called Gennex Healthcare Technologies recommends the drinking of clear alcohol.
“Dark alcohol tends to contain a substance called congeners. These types of alcohols are more likely to cause hangover symptoms.
The other necessary thing to do to prevent a hangover is to eat something before and during alcohol consumption. This slows the absorption of alcohol. Fats and carbohydrates are best for slowing absorption.
Remember that dehydration is a big part of hangovers. It can be dealt with while drinking. All one needs to do is to intersperse the drinks with water-based drinks.
But can a hangover be avoided? For those who are really worried about a hangover, the best piece of advice is ‘don’t get drunk.’ Most on-line information agrees that there is currently no known proven mechanism for making oneself sober short of waiting for the body to metabolize ingested alcohol, which occurs via oxidation through the liver before alcohol leaves the body.
“Most hangover “remedies” simply attend to one or more of the symptoms and don’t really provide a cure as such. The hangover won’t stop until the alcohol is out of your system.”
Drinkers believe that the morning after, when one is really weighed down by a hangover, having another drink or two will lessen the attack.
“One of the reasons hangovers are so unpleasant is that the liver is still processing the toxins left over from alcohol metabolism. Drinking more alcohol can make the symptoms seem to lessen at first but will only make the situation worse once the liver breaks the alcohol down, because it will have even more toxins to deal with.”
Drinkers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your money, your woman, your liver, your kids, your sanity, your job….