Magazine Issue: AUS/NZ Issue One
|Parties start, friends fly in, you forget to eat dinner, there were more people at the table when you left to buy the shout, you were on antibiotics at the time … blame what you like baby, you gotta hangover.
What is it?
“Headache, tremulousness, nausea, diarrhoea and fatigue combined with decreased occupational, cognitive or visual-spatial performance…” Yeah yeah, what’s the chase? Your head thumps from the inside out, your limbs shake so much you spill sugar on the table before it reaches your coffee which you don’t think you can stomach any way ’cause all you wanna do is throw up. But you need it because you’re so tired. As for facing up to work and actually using your head? Not a chance. Your head feels like a cabbage and the only thought you can muster up is that you will never, ever drink again. You promise.
According to our very own on-hand medico, Dr Shymal Dhar, the alcohol hangover is a real medical condition. The reason you feel all these things is because, well, you drank too much and your body is reacting. Whether alcohol is pleasurable or painful is all in the quantity you drink it in. Couple of glasses of whatever can enhance an occasion, drinking for the country will result in much woe.
What’s the damage?
Despite the fact you do feel better over time and that usually, a hangover is not permanent, the physical and mental damage can be permanent.
Everything they told you about killing brain cells is true. When you’re drunk, they drop like flies. For those wise arses who rebut with the reasoning that we use such a minute portion of our brain, I mean Einstein only used 10% of his, and we can afford to rid ourselves of the excess, there’s an even stronger argument for drinking in moderation.
You see, our brains are already programmed to degenerate at a predisposed rate. Bollocking yourself silly with too much plonk only speeds up this process so that by the time you hit 80, you’re left with only a portion of the brain cells that you were previously programmed to have. And you thought your Nana was a bumbling old fool when in fact she was just the party girl of her day.
It’s not only your brain cells that diminish when you drink too much, your pride can take a battering too when you realise that dancing on the bar at the family wedding was probably not the most entertaining thing you could’ve done. Not to mention the damage it just caused between the two of you.
And if all that’s not enough, there’s the physical danger that comes with having poor judgement – hailing a cab and falling in front of it, crossing a road without looking. Potentially it’s endless.
A recent British survey noted that Australians missing work because of a hangover cost the rest of us $AUS7.29 billion in lost wages in one year. Kiwis with a similar attitude cost their country $AUS635 million. It’s worth noting here that the Brits, who have nearly three times as many people, lost $AUS6.33 billion. Says a lot for calling last orders at 11pm like they do in the UK or that Aussies have a fairly blase attitude to their jobs. That or we can’t handle our grog.
What affects the severity of a hangover?
Lack of food consumption. Having food in your stomach doesn’t make the alcohol any less potent, if you have too much you will still get a hangover but it prevents the stomach from getting agitated. This is one of the symptoms of a hangover.
Clear liquors such as rum, vodka and gin tend to cause hangovers less frequently. Drinks like brandy, wine, tequila, whisky and other dark liquors have some leftover nasties from the distilling process called congeners. These increase the frequency and severity of a hangover. Despite what they say about not mixing your drinks, there’s no real evidence to suggest that having a few different types of drinks can make a hangover worse. The most likely scenario is that by the time someone had actually drunk a few different types of drink, they had consumed a lot anyway and it’s the quantity of alcohol consumed, not the mix, that gave them a hangover. Variety is in fact very palatable.
While we’re on variety in your drinks, try to vary your poison with a fair portion of water. Dehydration is one of the biggest causes of the symptoms of a hangover. Other factors that increase the severity of a hangover are things that make you feel pretty average at the best of times but are often branded as part of a hangover because they went with the drinking. These are, lack of sleep – often a big night is a late night, increased activity while drinking and if you have poor health anyway, getting boozy won’t help your cause.
How to avoid a hangover
Pace yourself, eat, get sleep, drink lots of water, take a vitamin B tablet before bed, don’t exert yourself physically while drunk – you’re not 10 foot tall and bullet proof, don’t have a late night and if you’re gonna drink spirits, stick to the clear ones.
Because hindsight’s a beautiful thing and you can’t undo what’s already done, here’s the low down on what might help ease the pain. And try to learn from last night’s mistakes, will you. Only take in the recommended quantities.
St Mary’s Thistle (herbal)