One of the most dreaded aspects of the New Year's Eve revelry is the hangover headache, caused simply by excessive alcohol consumption.
The discomfort of hangover headache is experienced the morning after because alcohol causes the blood vessels to swell or dilate which, in turn, triggers headache pain and may cause slight sweating. The alcohol also acts as a diuretic, which leads to dehydration.
To help avoid or lessen the suffering associated with hangover headache that often accompanies a night of drinking, the National Headache Foundation offers some common sense advice before and after a night of overindulgence.
* Drink alcohol in moderation: sip your drink slowly!
* Drink mixed drinks containing fruit or vegetable juices. Fructose, the naturally occurring sugar from fruits, helps return portions of the body's chemical balance back to normal following alcohol consumption.
* Alternate between alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages to minimize alcohol consumption. For example, order a glass of water with your glass of wine at the dinner table.
* Eat two tablespoons of honey prior to drinking: honey also supplies fructose and is rich in vitamin B6, which can reduce hangover symptoms.
* Eat greasy food before drinking alcohol. Greasy foods help line the intestines which causes alcohol absorption to take longer.
And to relieve hangover headaches, the NHF gives the following advice:
* Drink tomato juice. It's another good source of fructose and it helps the body process alcohol faster.
* Consume fluids and foods that contain minerals and salts. Liquids rich in minerals and salts such as bouillon offer relief from the dehydration caused by alcohol consumption.
* Drink sports drinks to replenish your body's fluids.
* Drink coffee as soon as you wake up: Caffeine may provide some relief in alleviating the headache symptoms and decreasing the duration of pain. Caffeine acts as a vasoconstrictor and eases the dilated blood vessels.
* Take ibuprofen: it is gentler on the stomach than aspirin and provides pain relief.
For more information on headache causes and treatments, visit www.headaches.org