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Hangovers FACT OR FICTION.

Brits spend two years of their lives feeling hungover, a recent study found. And they rely on a fry-up and a hair of the dog to get them through it. But just how effective are these fixes? We explore some common myths and reveal which 'cures' will help you feel better and which will make you feel even worse...

Intense exercise can help a hangover FALSE - Sweating it out by hitting the gym or going for a run is likely to make you feel a whole lot worse, according to Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP, medical adviser at Drinkaware and clinical director of patient.co.uk. She said: "Sweating will only make you feel more dehydrated." A good walk, however, increases oxygen in your system, marginally speeding up the metabolism of alcohol.

It's not just the alcohol that causes the hangover TRUE - Although the principal cause of hangovers is the ethanol, or actual alcohol, drinks with high levels of congeners (chemicals that contribute to their taste and colour) can worsen a hangover. Dark drinks (such as port or dark spirits) tend to be the worst offenders, while pale drinks and more expensive alcohol contain fewer congeners as they undergo a more rigorous distillation process.

You should never mix grape and grain FALSE - There's no scientific evidence to back this up, said Dr Jarvis, however, "the rationale behind it is that if you're drinking lots of different types of alcohol, you're more likely to underestimate your intake and therefore may drink more".

Hangovers get worse as you get older TRUE - When we drink, our livers produce the enzyme dehydrogenase, which breaks down alcohol into a harmless chemical so that less of it enters the bloodstream. Young people - and regular drinkers - produce more of this enzyme, so they don't feel the effects as much as older people.

A black coffee or energy drink will sober you up FALSE - "The caffeine in coffee may make you feel more alert but it won't sober you up," warned Dr Jarvis. "It will also dehydrate you further and make it more difficult to sleep." And studies show that the stimulating effect of caffeine can encourage people to stay out longer and drink more overall.

Dr Jarvis added: "Mixing alcohol with energy drinks can be a dangerous combination, making people 'wide-awake drunk' and creating a false sense of security." The amount of caffeine in energy drinks can also cause heart palpitations, problems sleeping or feeling tense or agitated.

Alcohol helps you sleep FALSE - Actually, it is the opposite because being drunk prevents your brain from entering the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep during which you get the most rest. Alcohol suppresses glutamine production, one of the body's natural stimulants, so when you stop drinking, the body starts overproducing it, keeping your mind active at just the wrong time.

Women suffer worse TRUE - A higher percentage of a man's body weight is water, so the alcohol in the drinks gets more diluted once in the system. Men also have higher levels of the enzyme dehydrogenase, which breaks down alcohol.

Taking painkillers can prevent a hangover FALSE - Dehydration is a major factor in causing hangovers, so taking painkillers won't help prevent one, said Dr Jarvis. Take soluble paracetamol combined with stomach-soothing ingredients, such as Resolve, the morning after if you need to.

A fry-up will help you feel better FALSE - A fatty cooked breakfast is hard to digest and is a lot for your stomach to cope with after a heavy night out, said Dr Jarvis. However, scrambled or boiled eggs contain cysteine, which breaks up acetaldehyde, a hangover-causing toxin. Alternatively, nibble dry toast or lightly salted crackers to raise low blood-sugar levels and alleviate nausea.

Eat before bed FALSE - By that stage, it's far too late. Dr Jarvis said: "It's better to eat before drinking, because the presence of food in your stomach will slow down the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream, giving your liver more time to deal with it.

The hair of the dog FALSE - "Drinking alcohol the morning after just postpones the inevitable, and your eventual hangover is likely to be even worse," warned Dr Jarvis. It's also a worrying habit to get into. It's far better to drink water or sports drinks (to replace lost electrolytes).

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? For more advice about alcohol and its effects, including hangovers, go to drinkaware.co.uk.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 19, 2017
Words:734
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