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Drinking Habits

How To Get Rid of a Hangover Headache

June 28, 2023
8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
June 28, 2023
8 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
June 28, 2023
8 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
June 28, 2023
8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
June 28, 2023
8 min read

Life is filled with moments of shared laughter, toasts to success, and an occasional indulgence in our favorite spirits. However, the morning after a night of excessive celebration can hit us with the dreaded hangover headache, a thudding reminder of our festivities. If you've ever woken up after a lively party with a pounding headache and found yourself wondering, "How did I get here, and more importantly, how do I get out?" or searching for how to cure a hangover headache, then this is the blog post for you. Just as we navigate the highs and lows of social interactions, we need to know how to traverse the after-effects of overindulgence.

How To Cure a Hangover Headache

Is there a surefire hangover headache cure? Sadly, no. According to current scientific understanding, there's no magic pill that can banish a hangover. These headaches result from a combination of factors including dehydration, altered inflammatory responses, and changes in blood flow, which aren't easily reversed.

However, we can alleviate our symptoms and speed up our recovery process in six simple steps.

What Causes Hangover Headaches?

The primary culprit behind hangover headaches is dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it encourages our bodies to release more fluids and electrolytes than we take in. This dehydrates us, causing blood vessels in the brain to narrow and triggering that pounding headache. While the hangover headache location can vary, it’s usually somewhere in the forehead area.

Another factor is the production of toxic compounds. When we drink alcohol, our body metabolizes it into acetaldehyde, a toxic compound that can lead to inflammation and a host of hangover symptoms, including headaches.

Alcohol also disrupts our sleep patterns. Even though we might fall asleep easily after a night of drinking, the quality of our sleep can be affected. We get less of the restorative REM sleep we need, and we might also deal with more fragmented sleep. This lack of proper rest can leave us feeling fatigued and exacerbate headache symptoms.

Finally, let's not forget the role of congeners, byproducts of alcohol fermentation found in higher amounts in darker spirits. Studies suggest that drinks with more congeners might lead to more severe hangovers. This is something to be aware of if you opt for drinks such as brandy, red wine, or bourbon.

What Helps a Hangover Headache

Now that we’ve talked about what causes a hangover headache, let’s turn our attention to how to get rid of a headache after drinking — or at least how to help a hangover headache end faster. While there are no universal cures, there are some home remedies for a hangover headache that have been proven to work.

Step 1: Hydrate

Hangovers often result from dehydration. Consuming water or drinks rich in electrolytes can help replenish lost fluids and ease the headache. You can even choose decaffeinated teas if you’d like. However, avoid beverages that can exacerbate dehydration, such as soda, coffee, or caffeinated teas.

Step 2: Eat a Balanced Meal

Nourishing our bodies with balanced meals can help stabilize blood sugar levels, which can be disrupted by alcohol. Choose complex carbohydrates like quinoa, brown rice, or whole wheat bread. Add in some high-quality protein and healthy fats to round out a meal or snack that’ll replenish your body back to its baseline.

Step 3: Rest

Sleep can be a powerful tool in the battle against hangovers. It aids in recovery and helps the body heal. Take a quick nap during the day after drinking if you need it, and aim to head to bed at your normal time.

Step 4: Use Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

Non-prescription drugs like ibuprofen can help alleviate the pain. However, it's important to avoid taking them while still drinking, since they can worsen the impact of alcohol on your body. 

Step 5: Try Natural Remedies

Some people find relief with natural remedies like ginger, which has been studied for its anti-nausea effects, and B vitamins, which can be depleted by heavy drinking. 

Step 6: Be Patient

Ultimately, time is the most effective treatment. Our bodies are equipped with a natural detoxification process that can gradually eliminate the effects of alcohol. While waiting for the discomfort to pass, try engaging in a soothing, low-intensity activity, such as coloring, cuddling with a pet, or watching a funny TV show. 

Prevention Is Key

While these steps can help us deal with the aftermath of a wild night, prevention is always the best medicine. Cutting back on or quitting alcohol can significantly reduce the risk of hangover headaches. Alcohol, especially when consumed in excess, disrupts various physiological processes, leading to unpleasant after-effects like headaches. By changing our relationship with alcohol, we can maintain a balance, enjoy social occasions, and prevent the debilitating pain of the next-day headache.

While there’s no sure-fire cure for hangover headaches, there are measures we can take to ease the pain and speed up recovery. Remember, the key lies in moderation. So, the next time we raise our glasses, let's also raise a toast to responsible drinking and the joy of waking up hangover-free. Life is much more enjoyable without the drum of a headache beating in our heads.

Say Goodbye to Hangover Headaches With Reframe

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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