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Hangovers More of a Headache Than You Think

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Wiese also points out that darker drinks, such as red wine or scotch, contain more impurities, called congeners, thereby increasing the frequency and severity of hangovers. And as for "hair of the dog," well, that hangover you are trying to avoid is going to still bite you sooner or later.

"Nobody has a cure for hangover. These are completely symptomatic treatments, much like taking over-the-counter drugs for a flu and a cold. You know, it's very questionable whether it really does anything," Cloninger tells WebMD.

Overall, Cloninger says the findings in Wiese's review are "not novel," since they are based on published studies, but the findings are "well-appreciated and well-recognized." Cloninger took issue with the cost figures because they "are based on a world where no one's going to drink at all, and that's not going to happen." He also says it's difficult to pigeonhole people, because every one reacts to alcohol differently, and not uniformly.

"Obviously, we're not going to go back to prohibition, but look what's happening with cigarette smoking. ... We may be attacking some of the wrong things, because there's certainly a lot of [death] associated with alcohol on roads, and so on, comparable to what you get with cigarettes," Cloninger tells WebMD. "So we need to maybe have a more balanced approach."

Vital Information:

  • People have been dealing with hangovers throughout history, but doctors haven't done much to research the medical issues they raise.
  • From the research that is available, experts say hangovers impair thinking and performance, in addition to making sufferers feel terrible. Overall, loss of productivity has economic effects on society as well.
  • There isn't a cure for a hangover, but severity may be lessened by using ibuprofen or aspirin and drinking plain water while you are drinking alcohol. Also, doctors should be asking patients about hangover frequency, which hints at one's risk of alcoholism.
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