Life & Style

How to prevent a hangover, but if you fail to, we’ve got you covered


The symptoms are familiar: a pounding head, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, excessive thirst, a dry mouth. “A large amount of alcohol intake at once leads to hangover symptoms. It depends on the blood alcohol level and how much is absorbed,” says Dr Ambanna Gowda, consultant physician, Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru. When the acetaldehyde component in alcohol breaks down in large numbers, alcohol gets absorbed faster.

Alcohol tolerance levels vary, depending on several factors, such as how often you’re drinking and how much. But whether it hits you hard today could depend on some factors that you can control through the day: water and food intake, for instance. So if you’re dehydrated and hungry, even if you’ve consumed what you usually do, you could get a hangover and feel very sick!

“Alcohol causes your body to produce more urine,” points out Bengaluru-based consultant nutritionist Esther Sathiaraj. Visiting the loo more often than usual leads to dehydration, and consequently to vasoconstrictions (narrowing/closing of a blood vessel) and headaches. Alcohol affects the stomach lining too, and increases the production of stomach acid (alcoholic gastritis) and delays stomach emptying (gastroparesis) - the factors which cause abdominal pain and nausea/vomit. However, there is no formula to calculate how much alcohol is safe to prevent a hangover, she adds.

Hangovers are no fun and a few studies say women are more prone to hangovers than men. “Women weigh less and have more body fat compared to men. They can get intoxicated fast,” says Esther.

A mild hangover can be taken care of by hydrating and eating healthy. It should pass in a day, with adequate rest. No matter what, avoid taking painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. If taken recurrently, they can damage the liver when combined with alcohol, says Esther. And of course, plan your evening, so you’re not drinking and driving.

Risk factors

Drinking on an empty stomach


Poor quality of sleep


Smoking, when combined with drinking, aggravates a hangover

Esther Sathiaraj tells us how to prevent and cure a hangover


The absorption of alcohol is quick if stomach is empty. Eat something before and while you’re drinking alcohol.

Sipping water during and after consuming an alcoholic drink, will help you stay hydrated and reduce the likeliness of having the symptoms. Drink alcoholic beverages slowly and prolong one drink to up to an hour.

Prefer alcoholic beverages with fewer congeners (chemicals found in alcoholic beverages) that are less likely to cause hangovers. Congeners are found in larger amounts in dark liquors (such as bourbon, rum, brandy) than in clear ones (vodka, gin).


Avoid coffee, as caffeine can dehydrate and worsen a headache. Plenty of water, fruit juices and a mild ginger-tea can provide relief.

Even if you love fluffy hot puris for breakfast, stay away from them. The grease could worsen the gastrointestinal irritability. Have foods high in proteins, minerals and vitamins and not greasy foods. Have a light breakfast even if you have nausea and vomiting, as it is important to eat something rather than being on an empty stomach.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 5:13:07 AM |

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