Hangovers More of a Headache Than You Think
WebMD News Archive
Some studies have put the annual cost in the U.S. at a whopping $148 billion
per year, while another researcher estimated the average annual loss to be
about $2,000 per working adult, Wiese writes. Light-to-moderate drinkers cause
87% of all alcohol-related problems in the workplace and, paradoxically, this
same group suffers more hangovers than heavier drinkers.
So, the million-dollar question is, what can be done about hangovers?
Humorist and writer Robert Benchley said, "there is no cure for the
hangover, save death." He was close. Wiese says "prevention" is the
only surefire hangover cure, followed closely by moderation and not drinking on
an empty stomach.
Some studies also have found the only other effective remedies are drinking
plenty of nonalcoholic fluids to rehydrate you, vitamin B6, and prostaglandin
inhibitors -- the class of anti-inflammatory drugs that include ibuprofen and
aspirin, according to Wiese. These should be taken at the time you drink the
alcohol for a small effect in reducing hangover severity.
There was one study of an herbal preparation called Liv.52 that was shown to
reduce hangover symptoms, but Wiese writes the results are suspect because of
the way the study was conducted and because the manufacturer sponsored the
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
"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
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
"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."