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