THURSDAY, Dec. 30 (HealthDay News) -- During this season of good cheer and abundant holiday parties, hangovers are not uncommon. And while folk remedies abound, the only things that are truly helpful in curing the misery of a hangover the morning after are time and fluid replacement, experts say.
Although the cause of a hangover -- drinking too much alcohol -- is obvious, the reason behind alcohol's ability to make you feel so rotten the day after isn't as clear.
"Alcohol clearly causes hangovers, but why it causes hangovers isn't very well understood," said Dr. Andrew Yacht, director of the division of general medicine and vice chair of medicine for education at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City.
"Part of the suspected cause is dehydration and an electrolyte and hormonal imbalance. Some of the symptoms may be caused by low blood sugar. Or, it may be that the direct toxic effects of alcohol are causing the symptoms," he explained.
Dehydration is probably one of the more important reasons for a hangover, said Dr. Brandon Browne, a staff physician in the department of emergency medicine at Scott & White Healthcare in Round Rock, Tex. "Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it helps the body get rid of fluids. When you have a severe hangover, you're often severely dehydrated, and the body can't get rid of the byproducts of metabolizing alcohol (metabolites). And those metabolites are irritating."
The type of alcohol you drink can also make a difference. "The darker the alcohol, the more potential there is for a hangover. The theory is that the congeners -- a byproduct of distillation that imparts color, taste and aroma -- found in rum, red wine, brandy and whisky make a hangover more likely than if you drink clearer alcohol, such as vodka, white wine or gin," said Yacht.
Research backs this theory up. In a study published earlier this y
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