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Can hangovers be prevented?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Not drinking at all is the only way to avoid getting a hangover, but you can reduce your chances of developing one by drinking in moderation. Alternating your alcoholic drinks with a glass of water over the course of the evening will keep you hydrated and help you drink less alcohol. Other hangover prevention tips include eating food while you drink and sticking to one type of alcoholic beverage for the entire period of consumption. You can also try to drink alcohol with fewer congeners, but keep in mind that any alcoholic drink can give you a hangover.

The only sure way to avoid a hangover is to avoid drinking alcohol. However, there are ways that you can reduce the risk of getting a hangover if you do drink.

Before You Drink:
  • Don't drink on an empty stomach.
  • Eat starchy foods to slow alcohol absorption.
While You Drink:
  • Limit alcohol intake to less than 1 drink per hour.
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with nonalcoholic beverages. Alcohol dehydrates the body, so water is the best choice of beverage.
  • Choose noncarbonated mixers -- carbonation can speed alcohol absorption.
  • Avoid sweet drinks (and sugary foods) while you drink -- the sweet taste may make it difficult to judge how much alcohol you're drinking.
  • Choose drinks with low levels of congeners -- additives found in alcohol that increase your risk of a hangover. As a general rule, dark-colored drinks (such as red wine, bourbon, and rum) have higher levels of congeners than do light-colored drinks (such as white wine, gin, and vodka).
After You Drink:
  • Drink water before you go to bed.
  • Get plenty of rest.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.