What is a hangover and what are its symptoms?

Hangovers vary from person to person, but usually involve a headache, nausea, tiredness and dehydration. Dehydration is one of the main causes of your hangover symptoms.

A hangover can leave you struggling to concentrate, feeling irritable and sensitive to light – not a good combination if you were planning to make the most of the day and not spend it in bed.

The main cause of a hangover is ethanol – the alcohol in your drinks. It's a toxic chemical that works in the body as a diuretic, which means it makes you pee more and you can become dehydrated as a result. Dehydration is one of the main causes of your hangover symptoms.

Ever wondered how much alcohol is too much?

How to prevent another hangover?

  • To avoid recurrence of hangovers, keep track of what you're drinking and stay within the low risk drinking guidelines by not regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week. If you do choose to drink as much as this it is best to spread your drinking evenly over three or more days and take several Drink Free Days during the week. The Drinkaware app can help you keep track how much you're drinking in terms of units and provide support to help you cut down.
  • Avoid alcohol on an empty stomach as it increases the risk of experiencing hangover symptoms. Food helps slow down the rate your body absorbs alcohol.
  • Try not to get into rounds. They make it harder to control how much you drink.
  • Drink plenty of water or soft drinks in between alcoholic drinks to avoid dehydration, one of the most prevalent hangover symptoms.
  • Your body takes about one hour to process each unit of alcohol. Consider stopping drinking well before the end of the evening, so the process can begin before you go to bed and the chances of suffering a hangover the following day are kept to a minimum.
  • Drink plenty of water before hitting the sack and keep more by the bed.

How can you cure a hangover?

  • As well as water, drink fresh juice to give yourself a vitamin boost. If you really need it, take a painkiller and an antacid to settle your stomach and alleviate hangover symptoms. Try a rehydration treatment sachet – they replace lost minerals and salt.
  • Eat something - bananas and kiwis are examples of food you can eat to help cure a hangover as they are a source of potassium (a mineral you lose when you drink because of the diuretic effect of alcohol).
  • Avoid hair of the dog – it only delays the problem. Take a break from alcohol.

Need help cutting down? Check out some tips