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December 30, 2012
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A whine-free zone

You awaken in that place between awake and asleep, where Tinker Bell lives, where you mistakenly hope you might not suffer the morning after.

You will. You have a hangover.

Hangovers are self-inflicted wounds, and no one wants to hear you whine about them. Hangovers are not fatal, just painful.

We live in America, and most Real Americans have a morning-after tale about thunderbolts in their brains after sleeping wrapped in a throw rug. They promise God that if they survive, they will lead holy and sinless lives.

Benjamin Franklin said that beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy.

In response, God may be saying that hangovers are proof that while some folks learn from other folks' mistakes, the rest of us have to pee on the electric fence for ourselves.

We made a round of phone calls to some bartenders and a couple of health professionals, asking about hangover cures, and they all said pretty much the same stuff: "If it hurts when you do that, don't do that."

Hangover symptoms are signs of dehydration caused by alcohol, said Dr. Larry Brooks, a local emergency-room physician.

"There's no magic cure we've found. It doesn't seem to work like that," Brooks said.

The closest thing is rehydration. Unfortunately, it can take a day for that to happen, especially if you've made yourself sick - driving Uncle O'Rourke's Buick to the porcelain throne kind of sick.

It's not unheard of for people to stagger into the emergency room claiming to be suffering from some dreadful disease.

"We see people all the time who are certain they have the flu," Brooks said.

Usually they don't. They have a hangover.

Here's why. People who live at lower elevations, which is most elevations on Earth, come up from sea level and celebrate and ski.

"One glass of alcohol at sea level is like 21⁄2 glasses at altitude," Brooks said.

When you have a glass of wine, have a glass of water along with it, Brooks said. If you don't, between the altitude and already being dehydrated, your hangover will be much worse.

"Go out and have a good time, but add some water and some good judgment," Brooks said. "Not only will you feel better, your whole life will be better."

Do not drink coffee, at least not right away. It has acids in it, and they are not your friend. Also, caffeine narrows your blood vessels and increases blood pressure. Both are bad for someone in your condition.

You now need something to eat. A few slices of plain toast might be in order. Later, when you're closing in on normal, you'll want something such as chili or steak.

But for now, eat light, said John Brick, Ph.D., author of "The Doctor's Hangover Handbook." He doesn't recommend anything specific, although he said he likes honey sandwiches.

The hair of the dog is another bad idea, said Dr. Charles Cutler, chair of the American College of Physicians' board of governors. Try a Virgin Mary instead of a Bloody Mary, he said.

You can buy all kinds of over-the-counter hangover "cures," but you're about as well off to spend the money on another round.

The British Medical Journal, which is in Britain, where they know about drinking and hangovers, identified eight peer-reviewed, placebo-controlled studies of hangover remedies.

"No compelling evidence exists" that they work, the journal says.

If you're a guy and fairly secure, you can try PMS pills, but they often contain caffeine, and you don't want any. Try ibuprofen (Advil and similar drugs) and naproxen (Aleve).

And, of course, sleep it off and remind yourself that the New Year's Eve midnight kiss you got the night before is worth the pain you're feeling New Year's morning.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Dec 30, 2012 04:37PM Published Dec 30, 2012 04:23PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.