When it comes to drinking alcohol and the dreaded hangover, people make a wide variety of choices about when and how much to drink. In a recent study, nearly 51 percent of all adults in the U.S. over the age of 18 admitted to having at least one alcoholic drink a month, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
In another study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, the agency found that when drinking, men had more of a tendency (43 percent) to binge drink than women (29 percent). Binge drinking is considered anytime a woman consumes more than four drinks, or five drinks for a man, within a two-hour period.
Even when done safely (not drinking and driving), binge drinking can still lead to problems the next day when waking up to face the hangover that serves as a reminder of all of your questionable decisions from the night before.
Since the majority of people have suffered through at least one hangover during their life, a lot of myths get passed around about the causes of and cures for a hangover. To help you separate fact from fiction, here’s the truth about a number of common hangover myths.
Common Hangover Myths Busted.
Myth #1: A Hangover isn’t a big deal.
While you may think that a hangover is just the price you pay for drinking too much, your body has a more serious view of binge drinking. A night of heavy drinking acts like a sucker punch to your body’s central nervous system and alters your brain chemistry, which leads to headaches, feelings of nausea and dizziness, and dehydration.
Drinking too much alcohol actually poisons the body, which can lead to vomiting and the symptoms you feel the next day- fatigue, headache, queasiness, and a weakened immune system. In the U.S., approximately 50,000 people a year are treated for alcohol poisoning, which results in hundreds of deaths a year.
Myth #2: Hangovers affect men and women equally.
In general, men can drink more than women, but not for the reason you might suspect. If a man and woman of the same height and weight each drank the same amount, the woman would feel the affects of the alcohol and hangover the next day more so than the man.
Men’s bodies contain more water when compared to women’s, which helps to dilute the alcohol they drink. When women drink the same amount as men, the alcohol begins to buildup in their bloodstream more quickly, causing them to become drunk sooner and for worse hangovers the next day.
Myth #3: Only binge drinking can cause a hangover.
Body chemistry plays a major role in how a person’s body processes alcohol. Some people may feel tipsy after just one drink, while others may need to consume two or three to feel the same affects. Because of this discrepancy, some people can feel a vicious hangover after only consuming a couple drinks the night before.
Myth #4: Drinking diet cocktails means less of a hangover.
A popular perception exists that the sweeter the drink, the greater the hangover will be the next day. The idea being that the sugars in alcohol dictate the severity of a hangover, and the more sugar you drink with alcohol, the greater a hangover becomes.
A popular strategy to reduce the amount of sugar consumed when drinking is to mix alcohol with diet soft drinks and tonics. However, studies have shown that by drinking alcohol with fruit juice and other sugar-containing liquids, you can actually reduce the severity of a hangover the next day.
Myth #5: What order you drink matters.
As the saying goes, liquor before beer in the clear. However, studies show that what you drink matters less than how much you drink. Whether you’re drinking a bottle of beer, glass of wine, or a shot of whiskey, you’re still consuming roughly the same amount of alcohol.
The reason why it seems like drinking liquor before beer offers less of a hangover is that by switching to beer after already having a buzz, you can start nursing a beer and slow down your rate of alcohol consumption. By drinking straight alcohol after already developing a buzz, you’re more likely to speed up your rate of consumption.
Myth #6: Aspirin before bed will prevent a hangover.
The majority of over-the-counter pain medication loses its effectiveness after four or five hours, so popping a few pills before going to bed won’t do you any good the next morning.
A better plan of action is to take any pain medication the next morning once your symptoms have begun. However, don’t take acetaminophen (Tylenol) after drinking, that night or the next morning, as it could damage your liver when combined with alcohol.
So there you have it, maybe some of these facts will stay with you on your next drinking session and help you avoid a severe hangover.
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