What is a hangover scientifically and how to deal with it

A hangover is a condition that occurs as a result of intoxication of the body with alcoholic beverages. It is accompanied by a number of unpleasant effects of both physical and psychological properties: puffiness of the face, headache, increased irritability, and so on. Perhaps everyone came across him at least once in his life - the next morning after festive feasts and Friday gatherings in a bar, life may seem like a branch of hell on earth.

How many people - there are so many in the world and ways of “reliable” getting rid of a hangover. Some people prefer strong coffee on an empty stomach, while others prefer an aspirin tablet or well-roasted toast with butter. All these decisions are based more on the instinctual desires of the body and are useful in their own way, but only partially. Why? Let's figure it out.

Where does the hangover come from?

The main cause of a hangover is an excess of alcohol breakdown products that poison the body. Under the influence of enzymes, ethanol decomposes into components, which entails a gradual sobering. However, in addition to ethanol, alcoholic drinks often contain many other impurities - for example, methanol, which breaks down into formaldehyde and formic acid, two strong toxins. What is curious here is that human enzymes are very selective and first destroy ethanol, and only then are taken for its example. This explains folk wisdom about the importance of sobriety - if you take a small dose of alcohol 8-10 hours after the first time, the body will simply switch to new ethanol and leave other harmful substances “alone”. Such measures will not help to avoid a hangover, but may delay it.

Degree do not raise

It is worth noting that the procedure for taking alcoholic beverages actually plays a big role. If you drink enough, then a hangover in the morning in any case will not be avoided, however, a gradual increase in the degree will help the body consistently prepare for the upcoming load. Dehydration has a greater effect on the symptoms of a hangover: when the body no longer has enough water, it begins to take it from reserve systems, including brain fluid. As a result, the cognitive functions of the brain are suppressed, which, coupled with poisoning by toxins, leads to the familiar symptoms and severe headache. Carbonated drinks (champagne, some types of beer and types of cocktails) increase the dehydration rate, and therefore you should not abuse them.

Some interesting studies have also proved that dark drinks (red wine, bourbon, dark rum) contain more congeners (enzymes formed during fermentation) than light ones - this worsens the condition of the body during a hangover. However, other studies also note that these enzymes protect the gastric mucosa from damage, so priorities should be chosen in this matter.

Drank it? Have a snack!

The common myth that a hearty dinner will save you from a hangover has a rational basis. Of course, no “airbag” for the stomach can be created - this fact has been proven even by European scientists. However, an abundance of fats will help to artificially slow down the absorption of alcohol - this will increase the fermentation time and make the effects of holiday libations not so strong. However, in the absence of fats, both proteins and carbohydrates will cope with this - the latter will also supply the brain with the necessary energy, which will ensure optimal metabolism and improve well-being. The flip side of the problem is an excess of calories, thanks to which you can easily gain a couple of extra kilos.

Coffee or aspirin?

And here we are entering the dangerous ground of myths that not only do not bring the desired relief, but can even harm the body. High-caffeine-rich energies and electrolyte-rich drinks for athletes would work ... if it weren’t for the fact that a plentiful feast provides the body with the above calories and glucose in excess. There is a chance that they will help you feel better for an hour and a half, after which the hangover will again make itself felt.

A completely different side of the coin is the use of antipyretic drugs. Not only do they usually work only for 4-6 hours (so you need to take them not at night, but after waking up), so also the systematic use of such drugs can provoke indigestion and, in some cases, liver damage.


There is no universal cure for a hangover today. Various methods will help only slightly alleviate their sad fate, but they will not get rid of it. The most effective means is still moderate intake of light, low alcohol drinks, coupled with plentiful food and plenty of water. If the hangover still catches up with you, then the best way to come to your senses is just to relax properly and give the body time for an independent solution to the problem. Perhaps in the future, scientists will invent a “hangover pill” - many developments in this direction are already underway - however, we can only wait and hope for the best.


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