By anguillian December 14, 2012 08:57



As we approach the Christmas season more and more individuals will be using alcoholic drinks and many will suffer hangovers some of which can have some serious, especially if the individual have to work on the day of the hangover. If you choose to drink alcohol, doing so responsibly can help you avoid future hangovers.

What are hangovers?
A hangover is a group of unpleasant signs and symptoms that can develop after drinking too much alcohol. A hangover is also associated with poor performance and conflict at work.

As a general rule, the more alcohol you drink, the more likely you are to have a hangover the next day. A single alcoholic drink is enough to trigger a hangover for some people, while others may drink heavily and escape a hangover entirely. Most hangovers go away on their own, though they can last up to 24 hours.

Risk factors for getting hangovers
Anyone who drinks alcohol can experience a hangover, but some people are more susceptible to hangovers than are others. A genetic variation that affects the way alcohol is metabolized may make some people flush, sweat or become ill after drinking even a small amount of alcohol. Frequent drinkers may build up a tolerance that decreases their risk of hangovers.

Factors that may make a hangover more likely or severe include:

• Drinking on an empty stomach. Having no food in your stomach speeds the body’s absorption of alcohol.

• Using other drugs, such as nicotine, along with alcohol. Smoking and drinking together appears to increase the likelihood of next-day misery.

• Not sleeping long or well enough after drinking. Some researchers believe that some hangover symptoms are often due, at least in part, to the short and poor-quality sleep cycle that typically follows a night of drinking.

• Having a family history of alcoholism. Having close relatives with a history of alcoholism may suggest an inherited problem with the way your body processes alcohol.

• Drinking darker coloured alcoholic beverages. Darker coloured drinks often contain a high volume of congeners — the chemicals used to add colour and flavor to alcohol. Congeners are more likely to produce a hangover.

What are the symptoms of a hangover?
The vast majority of individuals who drink heavily know the symptoms of hangovers, but hangovers can also occur after the first use of excessive alcohol.

Hangover symptoms typically begin when your blood alcohol drops significantly and is at or near zero. Symptoms usually are most noticeable the morning after a night of heavy drinking. Depending on what you drank, and how much you drank, you may experience the following:

• Fatigue

• Thirst

• Headaches and muscle aches

• Nausea, vomiting or stomach pain

• Poor or decreased sleep

• Increased sensitivity to light and sound

• Dizziness or a sense of the room spinning

• Rapid heartbeat

• Red, bloodshot eyes

• Shakiness

• Decreased ability to concentrate

• Mood disturbances such as depression, anxiety and irritability

More-severe signs and symptoms that accompany heavy drinking may indicate alcohol poisoning — a life-threatening emergency. If individuals have any of the following they should seek immediate medical attention. Serious signs and symptoms include the following:

• Confusion or stupor, as if in a daze

• Vomiting that persists

• Seizures

• Slow breathing (less than eight breaths a minute)

• Irregular breathing

• Blue-tinged skin or pale skin

• Low body temperature (hypothermia)

• Unconsciousness — “passing out”

Treatment for hangovers?
Time is the only sure cure for a hangover. The following tips might prove helpful:

• Drink fluids. Sip water or fruit juice to prevent dehydration. Resist any temptation to treat your hangover with more alcohol. It will only make you feel worse.

• Have a snack. Bland foods, such as toast and crackers, may boost your blood sugar and settle your stomach. Bouillon soup can help replace lost salt and potassium. Foods and drinks that contain fructose, such as honey or fruit juice, may help your body burn the alcohol faster.

• Take a pain reliever. A small dose of an over-the-counter pain reliever may ease your headache. Please remember that Aspirin can irritate your stomach. If you sometimes drink alcohol to excess, acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) can cause severe liver damage even in doses previously thought to be safe.

• Go back to bed. If you sleep long enough, your hangover may be gone when you awake.

Complications of hangovers?
Most individuals with hangovers do not have serious complications but when you have a hangover, you are likely to experience problems with your memory, concentration and visual skills. Not surprisingly, this temporary dulling of your abilities increases your risk of a number of problems at work, including:

• Trouble completing your tasks

• Criticism from a supervisor

• Conflict with co-workers

• Falling asleep on the job

• Workplace injuries

There is no known way to prevent hangovers. The only guaranteed way to prevent a hangover is to avoid alcohol. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation. The less alcohol you drink, the less likely you are to have a hangover.

Do not feel pressured to drink.

Individuals who use alcohol can experience hangovers. There are several myths concerning hangovers. Many of the cures suggested by many are not really cures, as with time most symptoms of hangovers will disappear, but the individual might have to put up with a headache, nausea, possible vomiting and dizziness following a night of drinking alcohol beverages. If you want to avoid these symptoms avoid the use of alcohol.

Ask Your Doctor is a health education column and is not a substitute for medical advice from your physician. Dr Brett Hodge is an Obstetrician/Gynaecologist and Family Doctor who has over twenty nine years in clinical practice. Dr Hodge has a medical practice in the Johnson Building in The Valley.


By anguillian December 14, 2012 08:57


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