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Drinking alcohol, especially too much, can be accompanied by various side effects.
A hangover is the most common one, with symptoms including fatigue, headache, nausea, dizziness, thirst and sensitivity to light or sound.
While there’s no shortage of purported hangover cures, ranging from chugging a glass of pickle juice to rubbing a lemon in your armpit before drinking, few of them are backed by science.
This article looks at 7 easy, evidence-based ways to cure a hangover.
1. Limit Your Alcohol Intake
The easiest way to reduce hangover symptoms is to reduce your alcohol intake, as both the severity and incidence of hangover symptoms increase in line with the amount of alcohol you consume.
In one study, researchers followed 112 young adults on vacation and found that those who drank more heavily had more hangovers, with 68% of heavy drinkers reporting a hangover.
Additionally, hangover severity increased throughout the week-long vacation as prolonged heavy drinking continued (1).
Many factors, including body weight, gender, when you last ate, what type of alcohol you drink and how long you spend drinking, can affect your blood alcohol concentration, or the percentage of alcohol in your blood.
Interestingly, studies have found that you must reach a peak blood alcohol concentration of 0.11–0.12% to develop a hangover (2).
Some individuals may experience a hangover after as few as 2–3 drinks, while others may require much more. Meanwhile, approximately 23% of all drinkers are resistant to hangovers altogether (3).
However, for most individuals, the most surefire way to prevent a hangover is to drink in moderation.
Both hangover incidence and severity are determined by the amount of alcohol you consume. Drinking in moderation can help prevent hangover symptoms.
2. Avoid Drinks With Congeners
Through the process of ethanol fermentation, sugars are converted into carbon dioxide and ethanol, also known as alcohol.
Congeners are toxic chemical by-products that are also formed in small amounts during this process, with different alcoholic beverages contain varying amounts (4).
Some studies have found that consuming drinks with a high amount of congeners could increase the frequency and severity of a hangover. Congeners may also slow the metabolism of alcohol and cause prolonged symptoms.
Drinks that are low in congeners include vodka, gin and rum, with vodka containing almost no congeners at all.
Meanwhile, tequila, whiskey and cognac are all high in congeners, with bourbon whiskey containing the highest amount.
One study had 95 young adults drink enough vodka or bourbon to reach a breath alcohol concentration of 0.11%. It found that drinking high-congener bourbon resulted in worse hangovers than drinking low-congener vodka (5).
Another study had 68 participants drink 2 ounces of either vodka or whiskey.
Drinking whiskey resulted in hangover symptoms like bad breath, dizziness, headache and nausea the following day, while drinking vodka did not (6).
Selecting drinks that are low in congeners may help reduce the incidence and severity of hangovers.
Choosing drinks that are low in congeners, such as vodka, gin and rum, could decrease the severity and frequency of hangovers.