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Monday, January 4, 2010

The 411 On Hangovers

There are things that are open for debate and those that are not . It' s a consensus that hangovers suck for everyone. I've met the most masochistic individuals that would scream with joy if belted with a cricket bat , and they do not enjoy hangovers. But what exactly causes the hurt , and most importantly , is there REALLY a way to prevent the cruel reminder of the previous night's debauchery?

Let's find out.

Symptom #1 : Hangover Insomnia - the feeling that you just haven't slept enough , yet when you try to sleep your mind plays all sorts of evil tricks on your brain and just will not let you. You wake up sweaty , shaky , and feeling generally unrested. What's worse , sleep shittiness can last for days .

What's To Blame : This dude here is Glutamic acid , an amino acid that is present in all sorts of yummy things like your brain . Alcohol puts a stop to this neurotransmitter and when the booze leaves your system , your body overcompensates by producing WAY to much of it creating a party in your brain. Glutamine excesses can actually cause seizures , but mainly just raise your blood pressure and play tricks with your sleep patterns . The last chunk of doze is in serious REM (the light sleep , not the awesome band , who may also be present in napland) , meaning you are likely to not feel rested when you wake up after a sea of very vivid dreams .

Is There ANYTHING One Can Do ? : Not really , you're not going to make up for lost time , but looking into the nerd brain of mine , I might have a bit of help. Ever notice that when you are feeling rude , you want junk food? Steak and Eggs , Chinese food , UMAMI , man ? I'm hopeful that since this stuff is in all sorts of food that there might be a way to trick the body into not rebounding quite so severely . I've noticed that my alcoholic stepdad wakes up at around 1 A.M. and eats a snack that invariably contains Glutamic acid and he doesn't seem to get the weird rebound insomnia . It's quite possible that he is waking up just in time to trick the shitstorm into not happening by giving the brain a small dose of what it craves . Research might have to be done here , but until then , it's not wise to take sleeping pills until you are certain that all of the booze has left your building.

Symptom #2 : Cottonmouth Joe : You wake up and you would drink camel piss if it was the only thing available . No matter how much water you drink , you just don't feel satiated .

What The Hell Is Going On? : The obvious and overly simplistic explanation is dehydration , which I will cover , but Xerostomia comes from a whole bunch of things related to party time . This is why post-booze pasties are so much worse than post-workout dry yap . To begin with , alcohol becomes vapour in air - ever notice how Purell seems to vanish leaving nothing but a chemical scent? Alcohol not only acts as a diuretic , but when you breathe through your mouth while drinking , it dries out everything it touches. People talk too much , smoke too much , and karaoke when drunk - all leading to your mouth being open for WAY too long. All kinds of drugs , including alcohol  but also nicotine and recreational party drugs , mess with salivary gland function . The extra cigarettes you or your friends smoke when having a few brewskis add to the agony. Cottonmouth also causes that nasty dragon breath characteristic of a severe hangover .

HEEEEEEEEELLLP!: Simply put , drink water before , during , and after the booze session and put a limit on indoor smoking . Chewing gum also increases salivary production and is always a wise idea . Not getting so shitfaced that you are forced to mouth-breathe is also something worth looking into . Once you have it , you are basically stuck with it until your salivary glands decide to revisit , but brushing your mouth is always a good option since it will remove the tongue scuzz and keep your housemates from collapsing from your post-alcoholic fire breathing.

Symptom #3 : BARF! Your belly is one angry beast - you are nauseated and will feel like marrying the porcelain goddess . Your inerds spin , you're dizzy , and you are certainly not climbing a ladder without puking all over the man working below.

What Is Happening To Me!?! : There are a number of causes for the barfbags , so I'll start here : Ethanol (yup , booze) is a pretty toxic substance all by its lonesome , but when it hits a fuctioning liver it is transformed into Acetaldehyde . This stuff is also present in tobacco smoke and is toxic until your body processes it . It's the same chemical that causes people to get the alcohol flush - a warning sign that your body is poisoned . Basically put - if your body has more of this toxic byproduct in it than it can get rid of in any period of time , your body will warn you with vomitus maximus , even after you are no longer feeling the fun drunk effects. Bummer.
Another one of the wonderful things that booze does is make angry on your stomach lining and esophagus - it screws with the acid balance and straight booze causes little burns to your gullet . The way that your body combats this is by trying to rid itself of the excessive offending gastric juices triggering that lovely warm acid bath in your mouth the next day.
Alcohol is an anesthetic , a poison - thusly , puking while drunk is a sign that your body is trying to keep from dying from the booze . The problem is that if you drink too much too fast , your brain can forget this life-saving reflex and you will die. If you puke WHILE on a bender , it means you have done something very wrong .

OK , Is There Help? : To begin with , make a plan BEFORE you get tanked. Eat something - it will fill your belly meaning you will be less inclined to overindulge and it will pad your belly from the acidic onslaught. It will also keep booze from hitting your liver as quickly , meaning that it will take you longer to get toxically drunk . Food also absorbs some of the booze so that in the event you do drink a dangerous amount , you can get it out of your system before it kills you. Afterward , drink and eat small portions of non-acidic foods during the day . I find potatoes to be comforting before , during , or after the party. Some people also swear by taking things like Pepcid and report less tummy troubles the next day.

Symptom #4: Your head hurts like an army of burly men with jackhammers are demolishing your frontal lobe . You might see blinkenlights , be sound sensitive , and irritable. Your head is not a happy place and wants to tell the whole world about it .

O.K. , Tell Me What's Happening (very very quietly) : To begin with , the Glutamine rebound has raised your blood pressure and messed with your sleep , making you shaky and bitchy , not to mention sweaty . Blood pressure elevation is notorious for making the head hurt . Another contributor is related to glucose in the brain , or rather lack thereof . Glucose is sugar , carbs run everything in your body . But it's not as simple as the hypoclycemic response that most people think . Booze also messes with gluconeogenesis - your liver just cannot push the sugars out to the places it is most needed , and your brain is a LONG way from liverland . This causes fatigue , confusion , weakness , bitchiness , and the inability to concentrate .
  Next , blame Mr. Dehydration once again - the very same beast that causes a whole host of yucky sensations also causes headaches . Think of when you were out back chopping wood in the heat . You got confused and a headache from hell . Like every other part of your body , your brain needs water in order to function properly . If it feels like your brain is being constricted , it is. Booze dehydration can actually cause your brain to pull away from the cozy lining , making the hurt worse.
   Finally , if you have been on a serious binge lasting half of your freshman semester , you might have become physically dependent on alcohol . As strange as it seems , your body can actually become accustomed to the idea of having poison floating around . There will be brain pain as your body adjusts to the idea of becoming normal again. Depending on how much you have abused the booze , you may even need medical intervention.

Can You Fix Me (Pretty please) : Like other things , preparation is the best medicine - eat , drink some water , and pray . On a serious note , you should try reintroducing electrolytes to your system : watered-down Gatorade is great simply for the sodium . Sodium helps your body absorb not only water but sugars as long as you don't overdo it. It has also been suggested that drinking clear liquors versus darker may be preferrable. If you have the twitches , you might need to take a benzo in order to quell tremors . The standbys seem to be food , water , sleep , and Tylenol. B-complex vitamins as well as vitamin C and potassium seem to keep the hangover from stretching out into days of hurt.

Symptom #5 : The most unspeakable of horrors - you wake up , your belly rumbles loudly enough to scare your Pit Bull , and you run to the can . You sit for what seems like days wondering what on Earth you did to deserve the howling from the deep. Welcome to the burning ring of fire known as beer shits .

Why Oh Why Is My Anus so Heinous? : It boils (:D) down to a few things , namely what you ate and what you drank. Simply , the Big D occurs when your colon has more fluid in it than it can reabsorb. Electrolytes help your bowels reabsorb water , but you were out boozing it up and peeing out those needed minerals . Also , booze is toxic to your inerds . As the booze travels through your digestive system , the cells absorb the alcohol and they get drunk , they lose their ability to function properly just as you do . As your intestines begin to become injured , more fluid flows from your abdomen to the affected cells , giving you the squirts from Hell . Even better , it dehydrates you further . Another problem with drinking in public places is that there may be various contaminants that can get into your booze adding to the hurt . Cheap draft-only bars are notorious for furthering the spread of various germs due to poorly sanitized taps and glasses , not to mention the food you might eat there. Beer has this effect for reasons of bacteria , the fact that beer does not have a high enough alcohol volume to santize anything , and sheer volume of liquid.

O.K. , Fix Me NOW , I Have To Go To Work : Firstly , do not drink draught beer from any place you do not trust - the normal beer shits will quell after a few hours , but e.Coli will cause your bum a whole pile of distress for a lot longer . Next , because booze causes funky intestinal contractions , Immodium may help while you return electrolytes to your system. Avoid coffee like the plague - it will make the shits SO much worse . If you are prone to party in the potty , you might want to avoid the taco truck outside the bar - the capsacin will make those tender tissues burn like a mofo and you really don't need any more pain. Stay away from too much fat the day of the bender as it can also mess with the intestines' ability to absorb water . If you REALLY have to get to work and are employed in a location where the gas and frequent trips to the can will be an issue and were stupid enough to get tanked the night before , I suggest an Immodium and sipping on Pedialyte. (Disclaimer: i am NOT a doctor , and in that vein I have also been told that smoking pot helps.)

  A few more words about hangovers - Natural fructose can help your body regulate sugars and burn alcohol faster . Have you ever noticed that your buddy who drinks screwdrivers seems to feel less hurt than you with your Beam and Cokes? Also , bubbly beverages speed up your body's absorption of alcohol , and the excess goes right into your bloodstream , not only making you more drunk , but more hungover. Try some tomato or orange juice before bed and when you rise . It really does help.
  Chicken soup really does work , as do miso and and brothy mixture . The reasons for this are related to replacing needed water , salt , and amino acids . B-complex vitamins are helpful because booze strips those from your tender wee brain .
  Drink clearer alcohols and try to avoid mixing drinks . It is absolutely TRUE - mixing types confuses your body and can slow down its ability to metabolize the poison.
  DO NOT take aspirin prior to drinking - EVER! Aspirin has been shown to drastically increase your blood alcohol content and slows your body's ability to remove it . Plus , it can make your stomach bleed , especially in combination with alcohol . This is according to the paid professionals at the AMA .
  I hope this has been helpful and/or entertaining , but before I go remember that moderation is always a good option and to arrange safe transport for yourself and your friends. If your friend passes out from booze , monitor them . If the person has not previously vomited , you should probably take him or her to the hospital . It's better to deal with waking up in a hospital than to never wake up.



1 comment:

  1. I haven't laughed so hard in ages...all good advice though but you crack me the fuck up!!!


Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think