Dehydration and Hangovers

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on May 22, 2015

Did you know you just need to drink more water to get rid of a hangover? Obviously, you’re just dehydrated. Before we go any further though, it’s important to describe the scenario where I learned this scientific misinformation. 

The other day, I pulled into the valet at one of the local casinos in Las Vegas. The valet attendant struck up a conversation, immediately delving into how unnecessary the treatments at Hangover Heaven were. When people are hungover, all they have to do is drink more water to rehydrate, he said. 

woman drinking glass of water

I thought about it, entertaining the conversation for a little bit until he said, “Yeah, I just finished my chemistry degree at San Jose State.” 

At that point, I had to walk away because needless to say, this is a common misconception. Hangovers aren’t just dehydration — real hangovers need real medicine. 

What Causes Hangovers?

pouring water into a glass

A lot of people are under the impression that dehydration is the main cause of hangovers. Even though dehydration is a facet of a hangover, it isn’t the main or only cause. I want to talk about this issue because hangovers are really caused by four different factors:

  1.   Inflammation from acetaldehyde toxicity
  2.   Dehydration
  3.   Glutamine rebound
  4.   Acute alcohol withdrawal

Alcohol causes dehydration because it inhibits a hormone called anti-diuretic hormone (ADH.) This hormone has a constant level in your system and keeps you from peeing out all of the water in your body. When you drink alcohol, the level of this hormone becomes low, and you pee more. You are also losing salt when this happens.

One alcoholic drink can result in up to a pint of urine production. This effect becomes less as you drink more. But, if you drink 15 drinks in a night, you can end up well over two liters dehydrated.

Dehydration causes nausea, headache, and dizziness just by itself. Inflammation makes this even worse. It’s like a double whammy. As a person gets older, the effects are more significant, as it takes longer for the body to rehydrate and get rid of the inflammation.

How to Prevent Dehydration

mason jar of ice cold water

  1. Even though dehydration is only one component of a hangover, try to drink 8 oz of water after every two or three drinks. Also, try to eat some bar food. Most bar food is salty. You need to replenish the salt you lose, as the electrolytes are important. Alternatively, you can also drink an electrolyte-rich beverage like Gatorade or Powerade. 
  2. Also, try to drink at least somewhat responsibly. If you are in Las Vegas for a four-day bachelor party, try to pace yourself. If you completely blow it out the first night, it is going to affect the rest of your vacation.If you do find yourself dragging by the third day, try to make it by Hangover Heaven IV Hydration for a salvation package with vitamins and antioxidants. When you drink alcohol, you use up your stores of vitamins and antioxidants, which help process the alcohol and inflammation out of your body. 
  3. Drink high-end, clear alcohol. High-quality vodka, gin, and clear tequila have lower levels of impurities. These impurities lead to more acetaldehyde and similar substances. These are what cause inflammation, which is the key component of a hangover. 
  4. Eat a decent meal before you go out. Meat contains many amino acids and B vitamins, which are necessary for processing alcohol. Food also delays the absorption of alcohol.

 So hit one of the steakhouses in Vegas before a night at the club.

There’s More to Hangovers than Dehydration

bottled water

The conversation with the valet with a chemistry degree ended quickly. I really appreciate his eagerness, but I think he has a bit more to learn about not only treating hangovers but hydration too. 

In the same vein, I’m confident about hydration – between treating thousands of hangovers at Hangover Heaven and my anesthesia practice, I’ve administered over 20,000 liters of IV fluid. In my experience, all the IV fluids in the world will not solve a Las Vegas level hangover without other medications and supplemental treatments.

Real hangovers need real medicine.  

 

About Dr. Jason Burke

Dr. Jason Burke is the founder of Hangover Heaven and the world's foremost Hangover Doctor! Dr. Burke had the idea for Hangover Heaven after recognizing that certain IV treatments administered in the recovery room could also be used to treat hangovers. When he's not four wheeling in his Jeep or hiking with his kids, he's educating others about hangover cures. Read more about Dr. Jason Burke.

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