It doesn’t take much to turn a night out for a few drinks into a morning of suffering from a hangover. Since nearly everyone over the legal drinking age has experienced at least one hangover during their life, a lot of misinformation gets passed around about what can cause and cure a hangover. Separating hangover fact from fiction can help you drink more responsibly, and prevent you from making costly, and potentially dangerous, mistakes when it comes to how much you have to drink.
Myth- Hangovers are Harmless
Hangovers are the direct result of alcohol poisoning, and a night of heavy drinking gives the central nervous system a direct punch in the gut. The headaches, dizziness, and general feelings of nausea you experience are the result of alcohol’s affect on the chemical balance of your brain. Excessive drinking can also cause you to become dehydrated, and can weaken your immune system.
Myth- Hangovers only Happen to Binge Drinkers
While individuals who engage in binge drinking are more likely to suffer the effects of a hangover, you don’t have to slam shots the night before to wakeup with a pounding headache and a profound hatred of the sun’s bright light. How well your body processes alcohol depends on whether it takes just a few drinks or a first place finish in a whiskey-drinking contest to leave you with a hangover the next morning.
Myth- Both Genders Suffer from Hangovers Equally
Women’s bodies contain a lower percentage of water than the bodies of men. This higher water percentage allows a man’s body to better dilute the alcohol they consume, which allows them to drink the same amount as a woman, but with fewer affects. A women who drinks the same amount as a man builds more alcohol up in her bloodstream, which means she’s more prone to feeling the affects of alcohol, including experiencing more hangovers.
Myth- You Get Fewer Hangovers from Drinking Wine
Red wine contains tannins, a compound that studies have shown to trigger headaches in some people. Whiskey and other malt liquors have also shown to produce severe hangovers in people. If you’re looking for a gentle drink, try sticking to beer or clear liquors like gin and vodka.
Myth- Mixers can Help Reduce Hangovers
In what seems like a sound theory, mixing alcohol with soda helps to cut back on the amount your drink versus having straight liquor or a martini. Unfortunately, not being able to taste the alcohol means you’re more likely to drink quickly, thus increasing your alcohol consumption. However, liquids that contain sugar, such as fruit juice and soda, can help to decrease the intensity of tomorrow’s hangover.
Myth- Liquor Before Beer, in the Clear
The old adage goes that drinking hard liquor before switching to beer will keep your from getting a hangover. However, it doesn’t matter what order you drink your alcohol because, in the end, you’re still drinking alcohol. A shot of liquor, a glass of wine, and a 12-ounce beer all contain roughly the same amount of alcohol by volume. So since the amount of alcohol that enters your system remains the same, it doesn’t matter which order you decide to drink.
Myth- Hair of the Dog can Help Easy a Hangover
A drink in the morning to help cure the consequences from the night prior will only postpone your hangover. The worst symptoms of a hangover occur when you blood-alcohol levels hit zero. By drinking in the morning, you only postpone what the time of day you eventually feel the effects of your hangover.
Timothy Lemke is a freelance blogger who’s spent a few late nights at B.J. Willy’s, a restaurant in West Linn Oregon.