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One question that I get asked all the time is, “Aren’t hangovers just dehydration?” Well, that question drives me absolutely crazy. After a big workout, does a person have severe vomiting, headache, and nausea? Generally, no. Hangovers are way more than dehydration. Below is the summary of “Hangovers 101” to get the basics of what hangovers are. I am going to try to keep these posts short and easy to digest. Over time, I will add some more scientific information for any interested parties.
1. Oxidative stress – This is caused by free radicals. Most people have heard of those. What is the solution to oxidative stress? Anti-oxidants!
2. Inflammation – We are all pretty familiar with this. Very similar to a bruise, headache, etc.
Advil/ibuprofen is the best solution for this. Inflammation is part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli such as trauma, toxins, or other causes. Alcohol is a toxin. It results in redness, swelling, and tissue sensitivity. Much of the inflammation with hangovers occurs in the brain, so the swelling and tissue sensitivity become real problems.
3. Dehydration – Yes, dehydration does play a role, mainly by the fact that when you are dehydrated, all the nasty inflammatory compounds, free radicals and other “stuff” have a higher concentration, which makes you feel worse.
One other concept that is very aggravating in Hangovers 101, is that people have made hangovers out to be binary conditions. Example of binary conditions are “one or zero, “on or off,” or “yes or no.” So, the general population regards hangovers as “Either, you have one or you don’t.” From a medical perspective, that could not be further from the truth. Hangovers are just like any other medical condition. There are mild, moderate, severe, and epic hangovers.
They can vary from person to person depending on their age, sex, and race. The same person can get very different hangovers depending on what they drink. We see it all the time, that people get a different hangover when they drink whiskey versus when they drink vodka.
Medical treatment of hangovers can vary widely as well. We have some people that we give 500ml of fluid and one dose of zofran and they are skipping out the door. Other people require over 3 liters of fluid and multiple doses of medications. One size definitely does not fit all when it comes to Vegas level hangovers!!
So, for your “Hangovers 101” beginners class, if you want to do something to prevent your hangover, you can purchase our supplements on Amazon here. In the end, take a few multivitamins, an Advil, milk thistle, or something at least before you go to sleep. It is much, much easier to prevent hangovers than to deal with them the next morning. Believe me, I would know. My company has treated tens of thousands of Las Vegas level hangovers.