Although a hangover isn’t curable, there are steps you can take before, during, and after drinking to help alleviate symptoms like headache and fatigue.
Hangovers are the unpleasant aftermath of alcohol intoxication.
Even so, a few strategies do show potential. Read on for ways to prevent or alleviate a hangover before, during, and after you drink.
Taking preventive measures like the following before you start drinking may help reduce hangover symptoms.
1. Consider Supplements
Inflammation helps your body repair tissue damage and fight infections. Evidence suggests that many hangover symptoms are caused by low-grade inflammation (2).
Do not take acetaminophen (Tylenol) to prevent hangover symptoms. The combination of alcohol and acetaminophen can be toxic to your liver.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen may help relieve hangover symptoms, but they can also irritate the lining of your stomach.
Some vitamins and medicinal herbs may also alleviate hangovers. However, a 2021 study found evidence of this to be of very low quality and called for further research into the effectiveness of these remedies (
Other studies suggest that taking the following supplements may significantly reduce hangover symptoms, although the evidence is not of high quality (
- clove extract
- tolfenamic acid
- red ginseng
Although they won’t completely prevent a hangover, some supplements might help ease your symptoms.
Certain dietary supplements — including B vitamins and zinc — may reduce hangover symptoms.
Taking some of the following steps may help prevent or reduce a hangover.
2. Drink in moderation or not at all
The severity of hangovers increases with the amount of alcohol you consume. For this reason, the best way to prevent hangovers is to drink in moderation — or abstain completely.
The amount of alcohol needed to produce a hangover varies among individuals. If you drink enough to become intoxicated, you may have a hangover the following day. However, about 20-25% of people who drink are “hangover resistant” and experience no symptoms (
The severity of hangovers is directly related to alcohol intake. Limiting or abstaining from drinks is the best way to prevent a hangover.
3. Avoid drinks high in congeners
Ethanol is the main active ingredient in alcoholic drinks, but they also contain varying amounts of congeners.
When sugar-fermenting yeasts produce ethanol — simply referred to as alcohol in this article — congeners are formed as well. Congeners are toxic chemicals that include methanol, isopentanol, and acetone.
Alcoholic drinks with high levels of congeners seem to increase the frequency and intensity of hangovers. Studies suggest that methanol, a common congener, is strongly associated with hangover symptoms. (2)
Drinks high in congeners include whiskey, cognac, and tequila. Bourbon whiskey is exceptionally high in congeners.
On the other hand, colorless drinks — like vodka, gin, and rum — have low levels of congeners.
You can significantly reduce the severity of hangovers by drinking low-congener beverages, such as vodka, gin, or rum.
4. Drink plenty of fluids
Although dehydration is not considered a main cause of hangovers, it may contribute to symptoms like thirst, headache, fatigue, and dry mouth.
Fortunately, dehydration is easy to avoid — just make sure to drink enough water.
You should avoid drinking beverages such as fresh orange juice or energy drinks such as Red Bull along with alcohol because the combination could lead to ethanol-related liver damage, according to the same study.
A good rule is to drink a glass of water — or another non-alcoholic beverage — between drinks and to have at least one big glass of water before going to sleep.
Summary Drinking plenty of water can help reduce some of the main symptoms of hangovers, including thirst and headache.
Although there is no real “cure” for a hangover, doing the following after drinking may help alleviate the symptoms.
Alcohol can interfere with your sleep.
It can impair both sleep quality and duration while disrupting your entire sleep schedule if you stay up too late (
Although poor sleep doesn’t cause most hangover symptoms, it may contribute to the fatigue and irritability often associated with hangovers.
Getting plenty of sleep after heavy drinking can help your body recover.
If you are unable to sleep in and take it easy the next day, getting drunk may not be such a good idea.
Alcohol can impair your sleep quality. Give yourself plenty of time to sleep in after a night of celebration.
6. Eat a hearty breakfast
Hangovers are sometimes associated with low levels of blood sugar, a condition known as hypoglycemia.
Alcohol can cause reduced blood sugar levels for hours because it disrupts the release of glucose into the blood from the liver.
Although hypoglycemia is not a major cause of hangovers, it may contribute to symptoms such as weakness and headache.
After drinking, having a nutritious breakfast or a late-night meal might help maintain your blood sugar levels.
Eating a good breakfast is a renowned hangover remedy. It can help restore blood sugar levels, which mitigates some symptoms.
7. Don’t have a drink the morning after
Treating a hangover by having another drink seems paradoxical. All the same, it is a famous hangover remedy, often referred to by the phrase “hair of the dog (that bit you).”
Although doing so has not been proven effective, there is some interesting science behind it.
Simply put, drinking more alcohol is believed to affect the metabolism of methanol, a well-known congener found in trace amounts in some drinks.
After drinking, your body converts methanol into formaldehyde, a highly toxic substance. Formaldehyde may be partly responsible for many hangover symptoms. (2)
However, consuming alcohol the morning after drinking heavily can inhibit this conversion process, preventing formaldehyde from forming.
Instead, methanol is discharged harmlessly from your body via your breath and urine. That’s why ethanol is often used to treat methanol poisoning (
That said, having another drink in the morning is strongly discouraged as a hangover remedy — as it may simply delay the inevitable.
Morning drinking is often associated with alcohol dependency, and mitigating a few hangovers is not worth risking your health.
Drinking more alcohol the next morning is a famous hangover remedy. However, this may do more harm than good.
Alcoholic hangovers refer to adverse symptoms — such as dizziness and nausea — that appear when people sober up after excessive drinking.
Several strategies may help reduce the severity of hangovers. These include avoiding drinks high in congeners, drinking plenty of water, getting adequate sleep, and having a nutritious breakfast.
But the best way to avoid a hangover is to drink in moderation or abstain completely.