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Coffee Against a Hangover: The Truth About Whether it Helps

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A hangover happens when a person drinks a lot. It often happens in the morning after a night of drinking. Excessive drinking can cause a group of symptoms the next day that people commonly refer to as a hangover. There is currently no guaranteed cure for a hangover. Coffee can help with some symptoms but is unlikely to provide significant relief.

Many people experience symptoms the day after drinking more alcohol than they can handle. These symptoms can include headaches, nausea, feelings of relaxation, and weakness.

There are many anecdotal claims that certain rituals or substances, such as coffee, can help cure a hangover. However, there is little evidence that drinking coffee can reverse the effects of drinking too much alcohol.

In fact, while it can relieve some hangover symptoms, drinking coffee can actually prolong other symptoms. Currently, the only way to prevent a hangover is to avoid drinking alcohol or drink it in moderation.

In this article, we will discuss whether coffee can reduce or worsen a hangover and give tips on how to deal with hangover symptoms, Medical News Today writes.

What is a hangover?

A hangover happens when a person drinks a lot. It often happens in the morning after a night of drinking.

Researchers still don’t know the exact causes of hangovers. However, research indicates that biological factors such as dehydration, gastrointestinal irritation, inflammation, chemical exposure, sleep disturbance, and mini-withdrawal symptoms are likely to contribute to the symptoms. Some studies from reliable sources also suggest that genetics may play a role.

Hangover symptoms can include:

  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • headache
  • increased thirst
  • sensitivity to light and sound
  • sweating
  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • nausea
  • abdominal pain
  • muscle pain
  • dizziness
  • high blood pressure

The symptoms experienced during a hangover can vary significantly from person to person. In addition, the same amount of alcohol affects people differently, so it is impossible to predict how much alcohol will cause hangover symptoms.

Some types of alcohol may also increase a person’s risk of experiencing hangover symptoms. For example, one study suggests that congeners found in dark spirits such as bourbon can make hangovers worse.

If a person notices a worsening of symptoms after drinking wine, especially white wine, they may have a sulfite intolerance.

Can coffee help?

Currently, there is no cure for a hangover, and drinking coffee is unlikely to provide significant relief. Like alcohol, the caffeine in coffee is a diuretic. Consequently, it can further dehydrate the body, potentially prolonging or exacerbating some hangover symptoms.

There is not much research on the effects of coffee on hangover symptoms. Instead, most studies focus on alcohol and caffeine consumption, such as mixing caffeinated energy drinks with alcohol.

A reliable source, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warns of the dangers of mixing alcohol and caffeine. Drinking caffeine and alcohol can mask the effects of alcohol, making people feel more alert and sober than they would otherwise.

According to a 2011 review, people who mix alcohol and caffeine are more likely to engage in risky behavior than those who drink alcohol alone. A 2013 study also noted that mixing alcohol and caffeine does not prevent hangovers.

Other tips

The best strategy for avoiding a hangover is to give up alcohol completely, but not everyone wants to give up alcohol completely. If people do prefer to drink, it is advisable that they drink in moderation.

People can try to manage and reduce the symptoms by rehydrating, eating nutritious foods, and getting plenty of rest.

Another option is home remedies. While coffee may not help, research shows that some natural substances can help with hangover symptoms. These may include:

  • Korean pear
  • Wild asparagus
  • Ginger
  • Ginseng
  • Seaweed

However, while there is some evidence that these natural substances can help with hangover symptoms, research is sparse and inconclusive.

Drinks containing these ingredients can provide some relief, as can some teas or electrolyte drinks. However, the simplest and most effective hangover drink is water.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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