Raise your hand if you want some help and advice about the "too much to drink" party last night and that wicked hangover that made you call your boss with the flimsy excuse that you think you're "coming down" with something.
If it becomes a habit to the point that the next time you call in "sick" your boss says: "don't concern yourself, Harry, I hired a temp named Bob, and he's working out just fine," you may be in the unemployment line and applying for food stamps soon.
First, you heavy drinkers have to understand the science behind that throbbing, queasy, mouth-full-of-cotton malaise. According to The Headache Institute at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City, the culprits are:
Dilation of blood vessels which may contribute to your throbbing headache
Low blood sugar. Alcohol can interfere with the liver's ability to produce glucose, which leaves you feeling weak and tired, clouds your thinking and makes you moody.
Poor sleep. While alcohol is sedating and promotes sleep initially, the sleep is often of poor quality with frequent awakenings due to factors such as decreased rapid eye movement sleep and bathroom breaks.
The accumulation of toxins. The main byproduct of metabolized alcohol, acetaldehyde ($300 word), is a toxin that can make your heart race and lead to headache, sweatiness, flushed skin, nausea and vomiting.
Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Alcohol promotes urination. Dehydration causes excessive thirst, lethargy, dizziness and light-headedness.
So, if the above pattern fits you, drinking plenty of water is essential because dehydration is perhaps the most common cause of hangover symptoms. Your cells that have now shriveled are screaming out for water. Force yourself to drink water.
If you throw up, good, because you're going to get some of the alcohol out of your system that way. If you forget to drink water before going to bed, then do it first thing in the morning. The sooner the better. If you don't like water, drink a sports drink. Non-acidic fruit juices are another good choice, too.
Also, avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages. Caffeine does not speed up your recovery. All it does is irritate the stomach lining and prevent you from falling asleep, which is one of the best ways to escape a hangover.
The final advice is a bit of tough love: exercise. While being active is the last thing you may want to do if you have a pounding head, it increases blood flow to the brain and the rest of your body and induces sweating which helps your body purge alcohol.
Here are a couple more tips from the U. S. National Institute of Health:
Try and eat food. Soups are good for replacing salt and potassium, and fruits and vegetables can help replenish lost nutrients.
Take pain medications such as ibuprofen to reduce your headache if you must, as long as you have no history of ulcers or bleeding problems. Antacids can help ease nausea and gastritis.
Drink a glass of water in between drinks containing alcohol. You'll drink less.
If you drink the "hard stuff" like vodka, gin and white wine (lighter-colored drinks), you may reduce the severity of your hangover. Dark-colored drinks such as whisky, brandy and red wine may hit you harder.
Finally, don't drink the cheap stuff - better known as the "well drinks." The more expensive the booze, the better off you'll be in the long run. Eating while you drink is beneficial because food in your stomach slows the absorption of alcohol. Just avoid the salty cracker, nuts and pretzels.
On the other hand, if all this is too much for you to bear, just avoid booze altogether. It may save your job, your relationships with friends, and more importantly, your wife and kids.