Five ways you won’t cure your hangover and what you can do instead

Medical Director, UK Insurance at Bupa UK
22 May 2019

It’s the morning after the night before. If you’ve woken up with a hangover, chances are you’d try just about anything to get rid of it. With lots of hangover remedies out there, we’ve picked out some of the most common myths you should be avoiding and why.

A Bupa UK infographic depicting five common hangover myths

Click here to download a PDF of the hangover myths infographic.


Myth one: drink more alcohol, or 'hair of the dog'

We’ve all heard the saying, and perhaps you even swear by it, but 'hair of the dog' is, unfortunately, completely ineffective. Although having a drink when you're hungover may make you temporarily feel better, you're only delaying the agony for later on that day. Drinking more alcohol will only boost the existing toxicity of the alcohol already in your body.

The main cause of a hangover is ethanol – the alcohol in your drinks. This toxic chemical is a diuretic, which means you’ll pass urine more than usual and, as a result, become dehydrated. Therefore, drinking water is the best way to shift a hangover, or have some fresh juice for a vitamin boost.

Also, make sure you drink some water before going to bed after an evening out. Keep a glass of water by your bed to drink if you wake during the night, and keep drinking plenty of fluids the next day.

Myth two: have a fry-up

Although this is often touted as a great hangover cure, it's best to steer clear of a greasy breakfast. Instead, have some fresh fruit. A banana or kiwi is a good option to replenish your potassium levels – a mineral you lose when you drink alcohol.

Try not to drink on an empty stomach. Having some food in your stomach will help slow your body’s absorption of the alcohol.

Myth three: go for a run to clear your head

Fresh air can do you the world of good when you have a hangover, but opt for a gentle stroll instead of a run or a gym workout. Because alcohol is a diuretic, you'll be very dehydrated the next morning. Heavy exercise will cause you to sweat, meaning you'll lose even more fluids. You need to be hydrated when you exercise to maintain blood flow through your body – this is essential for delivering oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. Make sure you rest and let your body recover and rehydrate before doing any strenuous exercise.

Myth four: drink lots of coffee

It's tempting to reach for the coffee the following morning. But, just like alcohol, caffeine is a diuretic (although has a milder effect than alcohol). One cup of coffee won't hurt and can help you kick-start your day, as well as contribute to some fluid intake. But after that, stick to water, fruit juice and herbal tea to fully rehydrate your body.

Myth five: eat at the end of a night out

A few too many drinks can easily tempt you into a pizza or kebab at the end of the evening. Not only can greasy food irritate your stomach, your calorie intake for the evening will rocket even higher. You're much better off eating a meal before you start drinking, rather than at the end of the night, to help slow the absorption of alcohol.

Know your limits

The truth is, drinking sensibly, knowing your limits and sticking to recommended guidelines will help you avoid getting a hangover at all.

The guidelines for both men and women are 14 units a week. This means, in a week, you shouldn’t drink more than:

  • six 175ml glasses of 13% wine
  • six pints of 4% lager
  • five pints of 4.5% cider
  • fourteen 25ml glasses of 40% spirit

Don’t ‘save’ all your units up to have in one go. Try to spread your intake over three or more days. And if you’re trying to cut back, try having a few alcohol-free days a week.

Dr Luke James
Medical Director, UK Insurance at Bupa UK

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Health information

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