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Hangover Self-Care Information

Drinking alcoholic beverages can lead to a hangover. The amount of alcohol that can be consumed before a hangover is experienced varies from person to person based on a number of factors including gender, age, weight, and health status. There are a variety of factors that contribute to experiencing a hangover.

Signs and Symptoms of a Hangover

  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea
  • Fatigue and "feeling sluggish"
  • Body aches
  • Red eyes
  • Inability to concentrate

As a diuretic, alcohol leads to increased urination often causing dehydration, electrolyte imbalances and lower blood sugar levels. Alcohol also has toxic effects on the brain and liver and irritating effects on the stomach and intestine. In particular, dark or colored alcohols (i.e. whiskey, red wine, and tequila) contain small amounts of congener, which is a toxin that may make experiencing a hangover more likely. At high enough levels, alcohol (a depressant) may lead to decreased respiration resulting in coma and death.

Treating a Hangover

Prevention is the best medicine. The best way to treat a hangover is through prevention. Hangovers can be prevented by limiting the amount of alcohol you chose to consume at any given occasion and being sure to alternate alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic beverages. Water, sports drinks with electrolytes, and juice help replenish electrolytes and vitamins lost when drinking alcohol.

Treating a hangover. If you are experiencing a hangover, over the counter pain medication and antacids may help relieve symptoms. Acetaminophen based pain relievers, when taken as directed, should be safe for most students to use. Pain relievers with aspirin or ibuprofen should be taken only with food to prevent stomach irritation.

  • Call the 24-hour Nurse Advice Line (512) 475-6677 (NURS) if you or someone you know are experiencing persistent nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea following alcohol use please call.
  • Call 911 or go to a local emergency room immediately if someone you know is experiencing a potentially deadly alcohol overdose with any of the following symptoms:
    • loss of consciousness (cannot be roused when shaken),
    • slow, shallow or irregular breathin,
    • vomiting while unconscious,
    • seizure-like activity (involuntary movements of any part of the body) or
    • pale or bluish skin color.