Hangovers are usually caused by dehydration. Appearing on ITV’s This Morning, Dr Philippa explained: “Alcohol is a diuretic, it makes you wee after you drink…and so you’re dehydrated. That gives you the headache and the fatigue. You don’t sleep well. Some people will say it helps them get off to sleep, but the sleep is fragmented, and you’re getting up to go to the toilet so you’re tired.
But she said: “Some people may find if they drink dark-coloured drinks that their hangovers are worse. That’s due to a compound called congeners, which are naturally found in higher concentrations in dark-coloured drinks like stout or in red wine than in white wine or clear spirits like vodka.
“So choosing those may help your hangover, but it’s not going to prevent it because all alcohol can do it.”
Drinking in moderation is also advised. Dr Philippa said: “So generally if you are someone that drinks, you know your limits as to what’s going to make you feel unwell, so stick to drinking small amounts.
“Remember to eat. Having food in your stomach will help you absorb the alcohol more slowly, so that makes a difference.
“Make sure you’re drinking plenty of other fluids. So perhaps have one alcohol drink and one glass of water. are sure you alternate those. Make sure you have a big glass of water before you go to bed, even if you’re going to get up in the night to do a wee. And then keep a glass of water by your bed so when you do get up, that you can then have some more to drink.”
If you wake up with a headache, nausea and tiredness, she recommends drinking water.
“Drink, drink, drink, drink water this time. Hair of the dog is not the answer, all you’re doing is increasing your blood alcohol levels again. You’re pushing those hangover symptoms slightly forward.
“So make sure you’re getting well hydrated to fix that dehydration, eat plain, simple food, if you don’t want to further irritate the stomach, and we want to make sure our blood sugar can pump up, so it might help with that trembly feeling you get.
“Long-term alcohol misuse can weaken your immune system, making you more vulnerable to serious infections. It can also weaken your bones, placing you at greater risk of fracturing or breaking them.”
To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level:
- men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis
- spread your drinking over three or more days if you regularly drink as much as 14 units a week
- if you want to cut down, try to have several drink-free days each week
Fourteen units is equivalent to six pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine.