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Dr. Minocha  is a practicing gastroenterologist and author of "Natural Stomach Care: Treating and Preventing Digestive Disorders with Best of Eastern and Western Therapies"


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Causes of Hangover

Hangovers are a poorly understood clinical entity despite their existence since ancient times. Scientists now believe the cause is multi-factorial and their occurrence is not solely related to the amount of alcohol consumed.

Other factors include empty stomach, lack of sleep, psychosocial factors, increased physical activity while drinking, and dehydration. Persons in otherwise poor health have a greater likelihood of developing a hangover. Children of alcoholic parents report greater hangover symptoms than the children of non-alcoholics.

Beware, 6 drinks in an 80 kg male and 3-5 drinks in a 60 kg woman will almost always lead to hangover. Simply put, not drinking enough to get drunk will dramatically reduce the likelihood of hangover.

Some people believe that a hangover is nature's way of punishment to prevent future drinking. However, studies have found that hangovers do not deter drinking. In contrast, it may encourage the person to drink more, also known as an "eye opener". One study showed that many people with hangover, drink more alcohol to reverse its effects.

Hangover Prevention


The only thing that can absolutely guarantee a hangover will not occur is to avoid drinking. Most of us ignore this warning.

1. Ladies, don't try to act macho and compete with the guys. I am not being sexist here. Just that biologically speaking, men can tolerate more alcohol than women, even if they are of same height and weight.

2. Do not mix different types of drinks. Avoid drinking on empty stomach. Food in the stomach prevents rapid absorption of alcohol into the blood stream. Thus, the more food you have before and during drinking, the less the impact of alcohol.

As much as possible, drink "clear" alcohols. One study showed that for the same amount of alcohol ingested, 33% of bourbon drinkers suffered hangovers, compared to only 3% of those who drank vodka. Brandy, red wine, tequila and rum are more likely to cause hangover than white wine, vodka and gin.

3. Dark or colored alcohols have small quantities of other toxic substances or congeners that are created during the fermentation process. Congeners are implicated in the causation of hangovers. These congeners include methyl alcohol, aldehydes, histamine, tannins, iron, lead and cobalt.

4.  Drink plenty of water. Make sure to drink water or other fluids such as apple juice or Gatorade before going to sleep, in order to prevent dehydration.

5.  Do not drink while using sauna. Saunas and alcohol do not mix well together and lead to increased health risk. 

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