Archive for Saturday, March 18, 2006

The cure for what ales you

How to avoid the head-splitting crush of a hangover

March 18, 2006


The young man was a chemistry major at Kansas University.

He had devised a scientific experiment: He'd drink the same amount of alcohol on two nights, at the same bar and with the same bartender.

On one night, he would take Chaser, a pill that claims to prevent hangovers; the other night, he would not.

"He said he felt tremendously better with Chaser," says Joyce Thompson, co-owner of Lawrence Nutrition Center, where the student purchased the product. "I've had people swear by it."

Hangovers may be on a lot of people's throbbing minds this morning as they look to shake off the aftereffects of St. Patrick's Day. And they may continue to be an issue next week as KU students celebrate spring break, and as sports bars fill with March Madness basketball fans.

"Hangover" is the term assigned to a variety of negative effects of drinking too much alcohol - headache, muscle aches, fatigue and nausea being the most common.

Some products, such as Chaser, claim to alleviate those issues. Chaser's theory is that ingesting calcium carbonate and charcoal will help your body filter out and pass toxins that cause hangovers.

Rick Renfro, who owns Johnny's Tavern, 410 N. Second St., says he hears three prevention methods for preventing hangovers most often:

¢ The "hair of the dog that bit you" philosophy.

By drinking more alcohol the following morning, you'll ease the symptoms. But it might not help much in the long run, assuming you stop drinking at some point.

¢ Eating greasy food.

"Anything that's bad and will clog your arteries," Renfro says. "Eat a little before and some more immediately when you're done drinking."

¢ Pace yourself.

"That's my recommendation," Renfro says. "After every beer you have, have a glass of water. Know what you can handle and stick to that. Don't feel like you have to drink too much - there will be plenty of other people you can watch who will drink too much."

Dr. Brian Hunt, an emergency department physician at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 325 Maine, says drinking a lot of water may alleviate hangovers. But he says nothing will truly prevent those icky feelings the next morning.

"You can read all the wives' tales," he says, "but there really is nothing to alleviate the side effects."

He says there is one surefire way to prevent hangovers: Don't drink.

"I can't tell you how many alcohol-related patients we see," he says of the emergency department. "If it's not number one, it's way up there in terms of reasons patients are here."

The body-review reaction

A heavy bout of drinking affects nearly every system of the body for up to 24 hours. A look at the body's reaction to a large dose of alcohol: ¢ Throat and mouth feel dry and scratchy due to dehydration. ¢ Heart can become inflamed, start beating with an abnormal rhythm or even stop beating. ¢ Liver builds up fatty and lactic acids, impairing the body's ability to metabolize sugar and resulting in weakness and mood disturbances. ¢ Stomach lining becomes inflamed, delaying digestion; gastric acid contributes to nausea. ¢ Brain's blood vessels dilate, causing a throbbing headache. Dehydration can cause the brain to pull from its lining, intensifying the pain. ¢ Pituitary gland releases improper amounts of several hormones, disrupting the brain's circadian rhythm (which makes sleep feel less restful) and interfering with normal kidney function. ¢ Central nervous system becomes chemically overexcited, causing sweating, tremors and sensitivity to light, sound and touch. ¢ Muscles become weak from dehydration and low blood-sugar levels. ¢ Pancreas increases production of digestive chemicals, causing pain, nausea and vomiting. ¢ Kidneys fail to reabsorb water, causing increased urination and dehydration. Source: Knight Ridder Tribune


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