Hangover Cures: What Works?

December 19, 2014 Providence Health Team

Hangover curesIf you find yourself ringing in the New Year with a ringing in your head, you’re not alone. With all the end-of-year celebrating, it’s easy to overindulge. Quaffing with co-workers can make you queasy and partaking of punch will put a pounding in your head. While the only real cure for a hangover is moderation (or abstinence) some of these classic hangover remedies might help ease your post-party suffering. But be careful, not all of these “remedies” really work.


If you’re a regular coffee drinker, go ahead and have your morning cup. Skipping your regular dose of caffeine may cause a withdrawal headache and a cup o’ Joe will help fend off the pounding later. But coffee isn’t a hangover cure and caffeine can raise blood pressure and constrict blood vessels, which could make you feel worse. Start with a small amount and wait 30 minutes or so to see how you feel. 

Hair of the Dog 

A spicy Bloody Mary might sound like a good idea. But, after a night of heavy drinking, more alcohol is the last thing you need. Alcohol is toxic to the liver and brain and it’s these toxins that make you feel horrible the next day. A morning-after drink might reduce some hangover symptoms temporarily. But, in the long run, it will only make you feel worse and prolong your hangover. Opt for a non-alcoholic drink like water (to re-hydrate) or a sports drink (to replace lost electrolytes) instead. 


Well known for its fizzy, tummy-calming relief, Alka-Seltzer contains sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, which helps to neutralize stomach acid and relieve stomach upset. Pop a couple tablets into some water and sip slowly. Be careful, though – Alka-Seltzer also contains aspirin and citric acid, which can worsen stomach symptoms for some people. 

Water and Sports Drinks 

It’s widely thought that a hangover is caused from dehydration, brought on by heavy drinking. However, experts aren’t exactly sure what causes a hangover. Many believe alcohol withdrawal is the culprit, while others think that congeners (toxic substances in alcohol) play a role. Either way, replacing lost fluids by drinking water or sports drinks is always a good idea, especially if you’re making frequent trips to the bathroom as part of your hangover suffering. 

Over-the-counter Pain Medication

A pounding headache is a classic hangover ailment and taking over-the-counter pain medication may help relieve your symptoms. Avoid acetaminophen (Tylenol) after heavy drinking because it can put extra strain on your liver. Stick with aspirin or ibuprofen for morning-after aches. But be careful because these two medicines can be harsh on your stomach. 

Hangover Pills 

Many companies offer hangover pills to cure what ails you. But studies show these herbal supplements are not the panacea that they claim to be. Many only help some of the symptoms of a hangover, such as dry mouth or nausea – and can be pricey. Stick with a multi-vitamin to help replace the nutrients you may have lost, but don’t expect it to speed your recovery. 


Sleep: it does a body good. Alcohol may make you feel groggy, but it really disrupts the sleep cycle. And being sleep deprived can make you feel worse the next day. If you have the time, take a long nap and sleep your hangover off. The best hangover cure is time, and giving your body much needed rest will help restore you to your natural vigor. 

An Ounce of Prevention 

An ounce of prevention is better than an ounce of whiskey. If you want to imbibe this holiday season, be sure to drink in moderation. Alternating each drink with a non-alcoholic beverage will slow down your alcohol consumption and keep you hydrated. Or, consider ordering your mixed drinks on the rocks. As the ice melts, the drink is diluted which means it’ll last longer and you’ll drink less. And, remember to eat. If you do over indulge, play it safe (and smart) and use a designated driver or a taxi.

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