11 Alcohol Hangover Myths Busted

11 Alcohol Hangover Myths Busted

A hangover is the sum of all the unpleasant physical and psychological effects of alcohol. It can last for a few hours – to more than a day. Given its bad effects on the body, some people still believe that certain acts can help diminish this – if not eliminate it for good. Unfortunately, not all you hear is true. So before you follow such advice, make sure to learn more about these busted alcohol hangover myths first:

Myth 1: Taking a shower can prevent or cure a hangover.

FALSE. There is no actual cure for a hangover. The best way to prevent it is to NOT drink at all.

Myth 2: Coffee can help you sober up.

FALSE. Coffee is rich in caffeine, which is a known stimulant. While it can help give people that much-needed energy, it does not apply to the drunk ones. In fact, a study has shown that it does not improve attention or reaction time in impaired people.

The research participants were heavy yet non-dependent drinkers. Despite drinking coffee, they fared poorly in terms of attention and reaction time. Worse, they continued to demonstrate impaired driving despite having a cup of joe.

Apart from being useless against hangovers, coffee can interact with alcohol as well. This can lead to more pronounced health effects that feel worse than a pounding headache.

Myth 3: Lining the stomach with milk can help reduce the effects of alcohol.

FALSE. Most people believe that drinking milk (those from the Mediterranean take olive oil) can help ‘protect’ the stomach from alcohol. Know that it will only slow the stomach from emptying. As such, it may help delay the effects of alcohol, but it cannot eliminate it for good.

Remember, only 20% of the alcohol you consume is absorbed in the stomach. The rest (80%) is taken in the intestines, according to a UC Santa Cruz article. With that being said, you still have a big chance of being hungover – even if you ‘line’ your stomach with milk before drinking. 

Myth 4: The “Hair of the Dog” works.

FALSE. Short for “the hair of the dog that bit you,” this English colloquialism refers to drinking alcohol to prevent a hangover. Fighting fire with fire, if you will. While it might help reduce your symptoms, but it does not cure your hangover for good. It only delays the unpleasant effects, which you are bound to feel sometime soon.

Myth 5: Drinking water before bed can help prevent a hangover.

SOMEHOW TRUE. Alcohol can be dehydrating, so drinking water before sleeping can help you out. That’s just about it, though. It cannot help prevent other symptoms such as headaches and light sensitivity, to name a few. While drinking water can help to some extent, it cannot make the hangover symptoms magically disappear.

Myth 6: Beer before liquor, never sicker!

FALSE. A lot of people believe that drinking alcohol in a certain order can help prevent a hangover. This is not true. Drinking beer first and spirits second will not change a thing. The bottom line here is this: the more you drink, the more severe your hangover will be.

Myth 7: Mixing drinks can worsen a hangover.

TRUE. Most people believe that drinking beer with wine can make a hangover worse. This is because combining drinks can make you lose track of how much alcohol you have consumed. Is it three pints and one wine, or three wines or one pint? Since you don’t have a good idea of how much you’ve drunk (remember, alcohol affects memory), you will most probably end up consuming more. And because you have chugged more alcohol, a severe hangover will definitely follow suit.

Myth 8: Wine does not give hangovers.

FALSE. Wine is chockfull of tannins, a substance that can trigger severe headaches. So while wine is said to be good for the heart, it can still lead to a hangover. If you don’t want to experience these unpleasant effects ever again, it’s best to minimize (if not cut) your alcohol consumption for good.

Myth 9: I’m used to hangovers, nothing else can make me worry.

FALSE. Even if you are used to alcohol’s unpleasant effects, that does not mean that there is nothing you should worry about. That just means that you are more likely to develop diseases caused by chronic alcohol consumption.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), consistent drinking may lead to any of the following:

  • Brain:  mood and behavior changes, thinking and coordination problems
  • Heart: high blood pressure, stroke, irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia), and other cardiac problems
  • Liver: alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, etc.
  • Pancreatic inflammation
  • Poor immunity
  • Cancers affecting the head, neck, esophagus, liver, breast, colon, and rectum

Myth 10: A hearty egg breakfast can help cure a hangover.

SOMEHOW TRUE. Surprisingly, the common belief that eggs may help cure a hangover holds water. According to a Penn State University entry, eggs are rich in cysteine, a protein building block. While it is considered non-essential by scientists, it plays a big role in breaking down acetaldehyde.

Acetaldehyde is the first byproduct of alcohol metabolism in the liver. According to the NIAAA, it is responsible for the physical and behavioral effects noted with alcohol consumption. In other words, it brings in the hangover symptoms that most people experience.

With that being said, since cysteine can help break down acetaldehyde, an egg-rich breakfast may help minimize (but not eliminate) the unpleasant effects of alcohol.

Myth 11: Women can drink as much as men.

TRUE – but with detrimental effects on the body. Yes, women can do what men can. But in the alcohol department, it’s not advisable. According to the NIAAA, women are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol – hangovers included.

To wit, females have lesser amounts of water in the body, so they are more likely to achieve high concentrations of alcohol after a few drinks.

Although women – with their larger liver volumes – can eliminate alcohol faster than men, they are more prone to the effects of alcohol. Research shows that females develop alcohol-induced brain damage and liver problems at a faster rate compared to men. So yes, females can chug alcohol similar to man’s pace, but it’s generally bad for their health.

There you have it – the common alcohol hangover myths busted. To wit, there is no set cure for a hangover. The only you can avoid it is to not drink alcohol.

Latest posts by Raychel Ria Agramon, BSN, RN, MPM (see all)

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