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Hangover Headache: Tips to ease overindulgence from the National Headache Foundation 

CHICAGO, IL – The onset of the holiday season brings the usual invitations to parties and open houses. They offer a chance to visit with valued friends and share in the holiday spirit. They also provide the opportunity to eat and drink more than usual.

            Probably one of the most dreaded aspects of the holiday season is the hangover headache, caused simply by excessive alcohol consumption. The discomfort of hangover headache is experienced in the morning after because alcohol causes the blood vessels to swell or dilate, which in turn, triggers headache pain and may cause slight sweating. The alcohol also acts as a diuretic, which leads to dehydration.

            To help avoid or lessen the suffering associated with the hangover headache that often accompanies these annual festivities, the National Headache that often accompanies these annual festivities, the National Headache Foundation offers some common sense advice and a headache-free drink recipe.

            If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Try to sip your drink slowly. Mixed drinks containing fruit or vegetable juices will probably have less effect than straight alcohol. Avoid red wine, which contains naturally occurring chemicals called congeners. Congeners impact the specific characteristic tastes to different types of wine and other alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately, they also may play a role in causing headaches. Congeners are more common in red than white wine.

            Eat some honey. Honey supplies fructose, a sugar that helps the body metabolize the alcohol ingested, is rich in vitamin B6 and reduce any hangover symptoms. At least one ounce of honey on a cracker or piece of toast, before or after drinking, may prevent a hangover. Tomato juice, another good source of fructose, also allows the body to burn alcohol faster. The sugar in fruit and fruit juices may also reduce some symptoms of hangover, so consumption of these products can be beneficial.

            Drink fluids containing minerals and salts. Liquids rich in minerals and salts offer relief from the dehydration caused by alcohol consumption. A cup of broth or bouillon, for example, will replace fluid and will not cause nausea. In general, replacement of fluids with low-acidity beverages, such as sports drinks or water, is helpful.

            Drink a cup of coffee. Caffeine may provide some relief in alleviating the headache symptoms and decreasing the duration of pain. The caffeine acts as a vasoconstrictor and eases the dilated blood vessels.

            Take Ibuprofen. While aspirin is okay, Ibuprofen is typically less irritating to the stomach, and can also ease the pain of hangover headache.

            Alternate non-alcoholic beverages with alcoholic beverages. Drinking one non-alcoholic beverage between each alcoholic beverage reduces overall alcohol consumption and helps replenish fluids.

            Eat greasy food before consuming alcohol. While it is wise to be healthy-conscious and avoid too much of these foods in general, this is a situation where eating fatty foods may be helpful. If consumed prior to drinking alcohol, these foods help line the intestines, which causes alcohol absorption to take longer.

            The National Headache foundation suggests the “Champagne Fooler,” a headache-free recipe.

            Champagne Fooler

1 1/3 cups apple juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

12 ounces club soda

Chill four glasses. Mix together apple juice and lemon juice. Add club soda and stir gently to blend. Pour into glasses and serve immediately. Yields four servings.

            While a headache caused by drinking too much may be more common during holiday season, chronic headaches can be a problem at any time. Headaches are a legitimate biological disease that is treatable. If you are experiencing headache pain on a routine basis, make a specific appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss your headache problem and seek accurate diagnosis and treatment.

            The National Headache Foundation (NHF), founded in 1970, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving headache sufferers, their families and the health care providers who treat them; promoting research into headache causes and treatments; and educating the public to the fact that headaches are a legitimate biological disease and sufferers should receive understanding and continuity of care. For more information on headache causes ad treatments, visit www.headaches.org or call 1-888-NHF-5552.