Table of Contents Hide
- Why Do Hangovers Occur?
- Can Coffee Sober You Up?
- The Benefits Coffee Has On Your Hangover
- The Downsides Coffee Can Have On Your Hangover
- How To Make The Best Out Of Your Hangover
For those who like to indulge in alcoholic beverages every now and then know that hangovers are possibly the worst thing about drinking, well, aside from the hazardous effects it has on your health. While drinking in moderation can be enjoyable, having a bit too much in one night can leave you feeling derailed and totally useless the next day. Now, wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a cure for a hangover? Throughout the years it has been speculated that coffee can help a hangover. So the question is does coffee REALLY help hangovers? is it good or, bad? Let’s find out the answer.
Why Do Hangovers Occur?
The main culprit for a hangover is dehydration, followed by many other symptoms. Since alcohol is a diuretic, it dehydrates you. When consuming alcohol, you urinate and sweat more frequently as your body fills up on liquid and your heart rate increases. Dehydration is usually followed by dizziness, headaches and thirst. Aside from Dehydration, some of the other major symptoms of a hangover are:
Excessive alcohol consumption irritates and raises the production of acids in your digestive system. This can accelerate or impede the food that passes through your gastrointestinal tract (GI Tract). Some symptoms you may experience are diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.
Weakens Your Immune System
Alcohol consumption weakens your immune system, making it prone to common colds and infections. Some symptoms you may experience are fatigue and loss of appetite.
Affects your Electrolyte Levels
Alcohol consumption affects the electrolyte levels in your body. Having uneven levels of electrolytes can make you feel weak, irritable and give you headaches.
Lowers your blood sugar levels
Excessive consumption of alcohol can lower the production of sugar in your body and leave you feeling fatigued, dizzy and irritable. (1)
Dilates your blood vessels
Alcohol consumption expands your blood vessels in a process known as Vasodilation. Some symptoms that you may experience are headaches, confusion, weakness, blurred vision and nausea.
Affects The Quality Of Your Sleep
While having a ton of drinks may send you off to Neverland for a brief period. The quality of sleep will be poor, you may be interrupted many times throughout the night with urges to urinate while being severely dehydrated. Symptoms may have you feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck with extreme fatigue and restlessness.
While experiencing all of these symptoms is very uncommon, you may experience one or two of them depending on the severity of the hangover. There is no timeframe on how long a hangover can last. Hangovers may last up to 72 hours, but usually, clear up within 24 hours.
Can Coffee Sober You Up?
No, Coffee will not sober you up. Drinking coffee can’t slow down or, reduce the effects of alcohol.
Caffeine, the key stimulant in coffee acts on your adenosine receptors and binds itself to brake the action of adenosine. Activating numerous neural circuits that cause your pituitary gland to secrete hormones prompting your adrenal glands to create more adrenalin. Therefore, increasing your alertness and giving your system a boost of energy. Not sobering you up. So, you will not be able to drive after drinking a cup of coffee if you are drunk. This is NOT A SOLUTION and should NEVER BE CONSIDERED. (2)
Throughout media and television, there has been a misconception that coffee can sober you up, the truth is that it cannot. Studies have shown that the effects of caffeine can improve your alertness and focus during your drunken stupor but won’t sober you up. The reason behind is that our bodies have to metabolize the alcohol we consume to decrease its effects. This process is done in the liver by two enzymes known as alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). After the metabolization, the less toxic compounds are broken down into water and carbon dioxide (CO2).
The human body can metabolize one unit of alcohol in approximately one hour. This, of course, depends on a few key factors, like the human’s genetics, the amount of food consumed before drinking, and the person’s tolerance for alcohol.
The Benefits Coffee Has On Your Hangover
So while you’re laying on your deathbed telling yourself that you will never drink again. Having a cup of coffee can slightly improve your state. Here are a few things good old coffee can do to help ease hangovers:
As previously mentioned, coffee will sharpen you up. The caffeine content in coffee releases neurotransmitters that stimulate and enhance your ability to respond swiftly. It increases your heart rate and the oxygen and blood flow to your muscles, giving you a nice boost to combat the fatigue that is brought by the hangover. If you’re looking to sleep the hangover off, it may not be the best idea to have a cup of coffee.
Caffeine is usually the key ingredient in any sports/energy drink. It’s even paired up with most cold medication. This is because caffeine increases your endurance and muscle strength. Drinking copious amounts of alcoholic drinks can leave you drained and depleted the next day, so drinking a small coffee can help give you a bit of a boost.
While a nasty hangover can make you feel quite nauseous when it comes to thinking about food. Having a cup of coffee can help your hangovers by stimulating your metabolism and make you hungry. This can feel quite challenging but taking the risk and eating can help your body overcome the illness and give it the fuel and energy needed for recovery.
Relieves Withdrawal Headache
If you’re frequent coffee drinker, then choosing to skip a coffee due to your hangover can make matters worse. Drinking a little bit of coffee can help prevent that caffeine withdrawal headache from creeping up. A study conducted in 2010 has revealed that pairing caffeine and an anti-inflammatory drug can help alleviate your headache and reduce your hangover symptoms. (2)
The Downsides Coffee Can Have On Your Hangover
You can’t always have positives without some negatives. So before you turn to the magic tonic consider some of these downsides.
Raises Heart Rate
If you have ever experienced a hangover then you are probably familiar with an increased heart rate. This is because mass consumption of alcohol leaves your body dehydrated thus increasing your heart rate. Consuming coffee at this state might push your heart into overdrive and have you experience heart palpitations.
Can Increases Shakes
If you’re one to get hangover shakes after a night of drinking, then having a cup of coffee can worsen this. Since the caffeine in coffee is a stimulant, it may amplify your jittery shakes.
Can Make Headache Worse
As mentioned above, if you’re a frequent coffee drinker then having a bit of coffee might help you dodge a caffeine withdrawal headache, and if you pair it up with an anti-inflammatory drug you will relieve yourself from the pulsing pain. But if you’re one that refuses to take any medication and prefers a more natural approach for aid then drinking coffee can possible intensify your hangover headache. This is because the caffeine in coffee thins out your blood vessels and increases your blood pressure, and since coffee is a diuretic it would dehydrate you even more and amplify your symptoms.
Coffee Is A Diuretic
As I just mentioned, coffee is a diuretic, though it’s considered a “mild” diuretic. It won’t severely dehydrate you but will make you urinate frequently. If you’re already severely dehydrated from the night before, having a coffee might make your situation worse and amplify the other symptoms. If you do choose to have a coffee to help your hangovers make sure you drink plenty of water before and after your coffee. (3)
How To Make The Best Out Of Your Hangover
Sadly, The best remedy for a hangover is… time. Though there are a few things you can do to relieve some of your symptoms and make your hangover a bit more manageable. The first thing is hydration. The main reason for your hangover is dehydration so consuming water is a given. While for some it may be very difficult keeping water down, or drinking anything without feeling nauseous, this is where you have to fight it. If you have the opportunity of taking the day off and sleeping, this should be your second option.
If sleep is out of the question. Getting some food into your stomach should be the next step. Eating may also feel extremely difficult, so try eating something light, like bread or a fruit like a banana, which can help with recovery.
Here are a few things you can try to help ease the symptoms
Considering all the points mentioned above, having a little coffee can help your hangovers and give you that much-desired boost in energy, strength and appetite.
A Pain Relief/Anti-Inflammatory Drug
This option is a bit tricky and should be considered with caution. Pain medication like Paracetamol/Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is filtered through your liver just like alcohol, so taking high doses of Acetaminophen for a long time can lead to liver damage. Taking Ibuprofen (Advil) should also be taken with caution because combined with alcohol it might trigger gastrointestinal issues. Even though studies show pairing coffee with an anti-inflammatory drug can help hangovers, it’s important to take these medications with discretion and at extremely low doses.
Staying hydrated is key when it comes to overcoming a hangover. Try to consume as much water as you possibly can. Though it’s a lot easier said than done, sticking it through will get you on the road to recovery in no time. You can also resort to sports drinks like Gatorade, Powerade, or Pedialyte to help you rehydrate and gain some electrolytes to help you recover.
As mentioned above, sports drinks like Gatorade or Pedialyte can help you get a nice fix of Potassium. If you want to go easy on the sugars, you can settle for something more natural like a Banana.
Load Up On Carbohydrates
Alcohol lowers your blood sugar levels. So eating a carb-heavy meal or drinking a glass of hearty juice can help boost up your sugar levels and ease your recovery.
If you regularly take multi-vitamins, then taking one during your hangover is a super good idea. Majority of multi-vitamins have a range of B vitamins which are excellent for boosting energy.
While coffee may not magically cure you of your hangover, it may definitely ease your symptoms, depending on your circumstances. Having to suffer for 24 hours, sometimes even 72 hours can be quite a derailing experience. Depending on the age, tolerance and genetic structure of the individual symptoms can range from mild to harsh. So, it’s important that you pace yourself if you do choose to drink. Keep in mind that the liver processes one drink per hour. Try to consume a full glass of water in between drinks and keep your drink-mixing to minimal and remember “Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear. Beer before liquor, never been sicker!”
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