How To Get Over A Hangover?

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A hangover is directly related to the consumption of alcohol. The term hangover was created to represent the feelings that ‘hang’ ‘over’ the person who has consumed alcohol as the effects begin to wear off.

There are many factors relating to a hangover one of the main factors is related to how much alcohol is consumed.

Large consumption of alcohol may bring about a hangover but that is not to say smaller amounts won't also bring about ill effects the morning after consumption.

The effects are individual and many factors may affect how quickly it will begin and the symptoms that may occur.

Some symptoms of a hangover:

  • Headache
  • Dry mouth (dehydration)
  • Aching muscles
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal Pains
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea

Hangovers can be debilitating and interrupt with normal daily functioning. The effects of a hangover are normally complete within 24 hours but feelings of lethargy and dehydration may last longer.

If alcohol use becomes uncontrollable, a alcohol rehab will support the detox from and therapy required to remain abstinent. 

How to get over a Hangover_

What causes a hangover?

The factors contributing to the break-down of alcohol are:

  • The amount of alcohol consumed
  • The percentage of alcohol (average beer 4.5, wine 11.6 and spirits 37 percent)
  • Body weight
  • Gender
  • Food consumed
  • Medications
  • Age

The amount of alcohol affects the ability of the liver to metabolise alcohol as the liver will need to work harder the more alcohol is consumed.

For example, a small shot of spirits may take one hour and a large glass of wine 3 hours. In these examples the amount of alcohol supersedes the alcohol percentage.

In essence a mathematical calculation could be carried out for each type of alcohol consumed considering in each case the percentage and amount of alcohol.

Body weight is important if the processing of alcohol continues to be considered in a mathematical sense i.e. the larger the body the more mass in which the alcohol can be diffused.

Gender affects alcohol metabolism as males metabolise more effectively than females. This is due to the enzyme responsible for this process to occur known as Alcohol Dehydrogenase ADH.

Males have an active form of ADH in the liver and stomach whereas females have practically none. ADH in larger amounts can break down alcohol quicker i.e. a female consuming the same amount of alcohol as a man will feel the drug’s effects much quicker.

The type of food consumed is an important factor in the breaking down of alcohol. Probiotic foods eliminate toxins from the gut quicker and green vegetables and fruit aid liver metabolism.

Asparagus in particular has been proven to protect the liver and reduce hangovers.

Medications can play a part in the speed of metabolism of alcohol as medications perform many different roles and functions within the body. Upon reading instructions, they may inform the user not to drink alcohol when taking these meds.

Age affects the ability to metabolise alcohol as when older the body stores less water and dehydration is higher as alcohol draws the water from the body.

As vital organs age they can also become weaker as they are forced to metabolise alcohol repeatedly and sometimes over the course of many years, if dependent.

If alcohol use becomes a problem time spent in residential rehab may be the solution as the client is detoxed in a safe and secure environment with a dedicated team of professionals.

How long does a hangover last?

As soon as the body consumes alcohol it begins the process of elimination from the inside of the body out. Elimination can occur through breath, sweating and urination.

Moving from the mouth down into the lining of the stomach and intestines to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Then continuing its journey to all the organs with ETA to brain around 90 seconds.

When alcohol reaches the liver the enzyme ADH begins it roles of breaking down the alcohol into ketones. Ketones allow for elimination to occur.

Important to remember males breakdown ethanol quicker than females and the BAC for females will appear higher for the same amount of drinks.

The length of time it takes to secrete alcohol varies and can be measure by the use of tests which indicate the length of time it has been in the body.

Most hangovers will be over within 24 hours and the amount still in the body can normally be tested by urine or breath tests.

An analysis of urine can detect alcohol between 12 and 48 hours after the last drink. With advanced tests measuring up to 80 hours post drink.

Breath Tests can detect alcohol over a shorter time frame – about 24 hours. Police Officers may use Breath Tests for roadside detection. The legal limit for driving is below 0.02.

An interesting fact is that alcohol can stay in the hair for 90 days.

  • Alcohol can also be detected in sweat and salvia
  • Urine – 12-48 hours
  • Breath – 24 hours
  • Hair – 90 days

The removal of alcohol and reduction in severity and length of hangover time can be remedied.

However it is important to note no two hangovers are the same. There is no exact science behind how long it will take for the sufferer to feel better and less hung over.

Some hangover symptoms can be isolated and treated accordingly. Take headache for example the use of over the counter pain relief may bring about fast acting results. Care must be shown if taking these tablets as they main further exacerbate symptoms.

Then a dry mouth may be reduced by the intake of non-alcoholic beverages.

However fizzy drinks or drinks with sweeteners are not recommended.

What are the best hangover remedies?

There are lots of effective hangover cures. As there are lots of symptoms of hangovers.

The top two contraindications the morning after consuming alcohol are:

  • Dehydration
  • Headache

A variety of methods such as increasing fluid levels and taking pain relief may suffice. However, it is important to know how alcohol leaves the body. As knowledge may support the sufferer when they are attempting to ‘feel better.’

The body eliminates alcohol in three main ways:

  • Urination
  • Sweat
  • Breath

Below is a list of the best ways to secrete alcohol (as fast as possible) through the three ways mentioned above and support the reduction of the adverse symptoms related to hangovers.

Six of the top cures for a hangover are:

1. Drink more fluids

How does the body urinate more frequently and with a larger volume?

In order to do achieve this goal – more fluids are the key.

Any fluid will support the faster removal of alcohol however some are better than others here are some of the best:

  • Water
  • Electrolytes (dissolved in water)
  • Coconut Water
  • Herbal Tea - Chamomile, Ginger & Green Tea

A good way to remedy a hangover is beat if before it begins, drinking a soft drink (non-fizzy) in alternate to an alcoholic one may help combat dehydration and headache.

2. Drink a Pint of water before bed

Drinking a pint of water before bed helps ease the hangover symptoms that may occur the next morning. As the body may overheat slightly through the night increasing dehydration. Also keeping a glass of water at the bedside can aid night-time dehydration.

  • Reduces hangover symptoms
  • Stops the body from dehydrating overnight

3. Do not drink on an empty stomach

This is another preventative hangover remedy as drinking on an empty stomach may worsen the condition.


  • Protects the stomach lining
  • Slows down absorption of alcohol
  • such as Carbohydrates are recommended

4. Drink clear alcohol

Drinking clear alcohol can help as it as it holds less methanol than darker drinks such as red wine, whiskey and tequila.

Clearer alcohol may be:

  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • White wine

Champagne and other sparkling wines have been left from the list as both these types of alcoholic beverages have been shown to promote a hangover as the fizz allows them to enter the bloodstream quicker than non-fizzy drinks.

5. Eat probiotic foods

Eat probiotic foods and green vegetables – probiotics such as kefir, kombucha or sauerkraut to name a few as well as green vegetables and fruit can aid liver metabolism as well as removing dietary fats.

6. Work out

Work out – Exercise that involves sweating will assist in the removal of alcohol. The body will remove toxins through sweating, urinating and breathing.

The word ‘hangover’ is an almost universal term for feeling unwell after drinking alcohol. And when considering this term an image of the sufferer looking worse for wear is conjured in the reader's mind.

Almost everybody who has ever drank alcohol may have experienced a hangover or at least some of the negative side effects mentioned above.

When hung over action can be taken by the sufferer to reduce the symptoms such as increasing hydration levels or curing a headache with a paracetamol or aspirin.

The best cure for a hangover is time. As the body works to eliminate the alcohol from the inside out by means of urine, sweat or breath.

In regard to time sufferers will usually begin to feel like ‘normal’ within a 24-hour period.

About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.

Last Updated: October 31, 2023