How to get over the 4 worst hangover symptoms

You know the drill—chug a glass of water after every drink, load up on carbs before a long night out, don’t mix alcohols and skip the ones heavy with congeners—but sometimes, all the best practices can’t protect you from a hangover after a particularly indulgent night. Headaches, brain fog, nausea and drowsiness—if you know what that feels like, you know how badly you want to soothe all the hangover symptoms. We asked Dr Vishakha Shivdasani, a Mumbai-based doctor who specialises in lifestyle diseases and nutrition, and Sheela Seharawat, a Gurugram-based nutritionist for their take.

1. If you’re feeling drowsy or sluggish

Excess consumption of alcohol makes the blood sugar levels plummet, causing fatigue and weakness. While alcohol is a sedative, it can mess with how well you sleep. Several hours after drinking, the alcohol raises epinephrine production in the body, which increases the heart rate and stimulates the body, so you’re constantly waking up at night. Need to boost productivity levels the next day? “Eat a complex carbohydrate. Stay away from simple sugars which can further disturb the blood sugar balance. For instance, reach out for a banana which is loaded with potassium or eat a couple of dates as soon as you wake up,” suggests Dr Shivdasani. “Grabbing an effervescent Vitamin C tablet could also help you feel recharged,” says Dr Seharawat.

2. If you’re struggling with throbbing pain and a headache

The ethanol in alcohol makes our blood vessels expand. This can stimulate brain nerves and result in pain, particularly the throbbing, mind-numbing type. Alcohol also affects the histamine and serotonin levels in the brain, and when combined with dehydration, makes the whole thing worse. “Be conscious of adding electrolytes to your diet your electrolytes. Focus on rehydrating your cells, especially if you’re struggling with brain fog. If you are prone to hangovers or are have drunk drinks with high congener content such as whiskey, tequila and cognac, try having a glass of water in between the drinks,” says Seharawat. Both pros suggest chugging water and reaching for foods/drinks rich in electrolytes, like coconut water and citrus fruits. “I suggest lime water with rock salt for a hangover-induced headache,” says Dr Shivdasani. For some instant relief, you can also take an over-the-counter painkiller like acetaminophen for your headache.

3. If you feel nauseous and bloated

Alcohol can cause an inflammation of the stomach lining, which can cause gastritis, which in turn, causes nausea. “Acid reflux limits water from being absorbed from the small intestine, therefore the contents of the small intestine are propelled more quickly, hence you get diarrhoea kind of symptoms along with nausea,” says Dr Shivdasani. If you are feeling the cramps and have mild diarrhoea symptoms, stay away from heavy breakfast but be mindful of loading your body with electrolyte-rich fluids.

4. If you’re feeling low and upset

While you’re drinking, alcohol stimulates the production of GABA which calms and the brain and blocks the production of glutamate, a neurotransmitter associated with anxiety. This combination is why you feel relaxed, happy and social on a night out. However, the brain balances this out the next morning by blocking GABA and producing more glutamate, which leaves you feeling anxious, upset and stressed out in the AM. Getting back into your regular routine, eating a balanced breakfast and spending time on a productive task can help.

The article was first published in Vogue


  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

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