The Hangover

Jun 26, 2019

It will be felt almost 50 000 times in the Parkland this weekend. People will suffer, wonder what's wrong, ask why, and some will seek medical treatment. It will ruin mornings and even full days. For some, work hours will be lost, lawns will not get mowed and big plans for breakfast will just not happen. It is Countryfest weekend, so it's a great week to learn about the hangover.

Made famous by the popular movie series, most dread a hangover. Like most, in my younger years I was able to consume alcoholic beverages, deprive myself of sleep and wake up the next morning feeling normal. Well those days are now gone. It gets blamed on the water, something you ate or a bug you must have picked up. But the real cause is simple, too much alcohol. A hangover is simply a mass of unpleasant signs and symptoms that can develop after too much drinking. They includefatigue, weakness, thirst, headache, muscle ache, poor sleep, light sensitivity, shaking, nausea, vomiting and the list goes on.

The definition of too much alcohol consumption will be left up to you, as it depends on the person. Some may experience a hangover from a glass of wine, and some may only experience one after drinking various or a certain type of alcohol. Genetic variations that affects the way alcohol is metabolized may make some people flush, sweat or become ill after drinking even a small amount. Some can drink the town dry and get up the next morning like nothing happened. Additives in alcohol to give them their dark color like in whiskeys, brandies and dark rums can increase severity. The usual golden rule is the more alcohol you drink, the more likely you are to have a hangover the next day. The key to preventing hangovers is simple, moderation.

When you consume alcohol it eventually passes from your stomach into the bloodstream. Your liver will do its best to begin to filter or process the alcohol, breaking it down into toxic acetaldehyde. Alcohol dehydrogenase, and enzyme further metabolizes it into acetic acid (non toxic). If this process cannot keep pace with your drinking acetaldehyde builds up leading to headaches and nausea. Those dreaded symptoms begin when your blood alcohol content drops significantly, which is why the hangover can be in full force the morning after a night of too much drinking.

Alcohol consumption leads to more urine production, which in turn can lead to electrolyte imbalance and dehydration. This is what causes thirst, dizziness and light headedness. The inflammatory response from the alcohol causes memory issues or "foggy feeling", while the irritation to the lining of your stomach turns into the abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting. Another effect is a drop-in blood sugar leading to additional fatigue, weakness, shakiness, mood disturbances and even seizures. The widening of blood vessels is the head culprit. While you may be wishing you can sleep the hangover off, Alcohol prevents deeper stages of sleep waking you up in the middle of the night for you to ponder the question: Why? Why? Why?

So now for the important part - preventing hangovers:

-As mentioned, moderation or not drinking at all if the sure way to prevent a hangover. Never pressure anyone to drink or feel pressured to drink.

-Eat - Empty stomachs absorb alcohol quicker. Grab some of the Koshowski fries or a Tryzub Catering Ukrainian Platter so there is food in your stomach. It is important to do this prior to drinking or while drinking. Eating after drinking will not help as the alcohol will already be absorbed.

-Plan for a good sleep and do anything you can to improve your quality of sleep after a night of fun. Use a sleep mask, ear plugs, go to bed at a decent time and stay in your tent!

-Try drinking clear alcohols like vodka or gin and don't mix them with too much sugar. Its also a good idea to not mix different types of drinks throughout the night.

-Hit the water between drinks. Try for one glass of water between each drink.

-Take it slow. Avoid having more than one alcoholic drink in an hour. Stop drinking completely when you've reached your limit (or before then).

-Talk to a pharmacist or health care provider about what over the counter medications may be safe for you to try treat a hangover or help prevent it. Use caution when trying natural products - you must know what is in it and if its safe for you.


-The number one treatment for a hangover is time.

-While your waiting for things to improve sip on water or a watered down fruit juice; slowly. Consuming massive amount of liquid will upset the stomach.

-Snack lightly on simple bland foods may help get your blood sugar back up and balance some of those electrolytes.

- Take a pain reliever, while using caution. Tylenol can be tough on your liver, while ibuprofen or ASA can be tough on the stomach.

-Go back to bed. If you sleep long enough, your hangover may be gone when you awaken.

Parents, talk to your teenagers about the importance of limiting their alcohol consumption and eating properly. We all know too much drinking can be extremely dangerous. If they are headed to Countryfest or even camping for the weekend, let them borrow your camping BBQ and send them with some burgers and a 5-gallon jug of Baba's Water. Always make sure you have a safe ride home or a safe place to camp with trusted friends around. Have a great weekend at one of the best festivals in Canada this weekend. A big cowboy-hat off to the Countryfest board, staff and volunteers who make this festival possible.


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