The New Rules for Curing and Preventing Hangovers
IstockphotoThe pometini pitchers were flowing, and you danced like a star. But today, youre feeling a wee bit fried. These feel-better tricks will help, no matter what you did last night.
1. Those cocktails were really good
What to do today: after too much hooch, drink a lot of water and at least one serving of fruit juice (any kind, even if its not 100% juice)that will replenish the sugar that's lost when your body metabolizes alcohol.
And treat yourself to extra carbs, such as wheat toast, which help your body process the alcohol by delivering extra sugar and absorbing the alcohol's toxins, experts say. If your head hurts, its partly because alcohol has an inflammatory effect that makes your blood vessels swell, a common headache trigger. Christine Lay, MD, a headache specialist at The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, recommends ibuprofen, which not only relieves the pain, but has anti-inflammatory powers that acetaminophen doesn't.
2. You danced all night in stilettos
You pulled out your best moves, but now your feet are achy. That happens because high heels strain the balls of your feet and the metatarsals, the long bones in the forefoot, explains Marc A. Brenner, DPM, a podiatrist based in Glendale, New York. “Depending on how pointy the shoe, you may also have pain in your toes,” he says. After you get up, soak your feet in cool water for 10 minutes. Then dry off and massage them with a foot balm containing menthol, which offers short-term pain relief. We love Dr. Scholls for Her Cooling Peppermint Lotion ($5.49).
When you must put on shoes again, drag out the most comfortable pair in your closet (read well-cushioned with thick soles and good arch-support); theyll help ease the ache. Soak again at night, wear sane shoes for the next day or two, and youre good for another round of dancing. However, if the ache doesnt go away, call your doc.
3. You had the richest meal of your life
You adored the steak frites and chocolate souffle. The bloat and full feeling 12 hours later? Not so much. As soon as you feel hungry, return to your normal eating habitsmaybe a breakfast that includes low-fat dairy (like low-fat cottage cheese), high-fiber whole grains like oatmeal, some fruit, and a little protein like a hard-boiled egg.
Then hit the gym ASAP. Experts say that exercise may help gas escape your body, which can ease the bloat. Follow your normal diet the rest of the day; try not to blame yourself or drastically cut back on calories to make up for last night. “One night of indulgence wont wreck a healthy diet,” says Elisa Zied, MS, RD, a New York City–based spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
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4. You took the red-eyeand stayed up enjoying the movie
Today: Resist the urge to take a nap before work (or keep it to 30 minutes or less), says Daniel McNally, MD, medical director of the University of Connecticut Sleep Disorders Center, because itll only throw off your sleep clock even more and make it harder for you to fall asleep at night. Instead, get some sun right away; that will help you return to a regular sleep schedule at night, Dr. McNally says.
Take a brisk morning walk or jog around the block, too, and be sure to sit outdoors during your lunch hour. If you love coffee, dont suck down a whole pot at once: sipping small amountsabout a quarter-cup every hourwill actually keep you more alert than that grande latte without ruining your sleep, according to a study from Harvard Medical School.
5. You crashed in your contacts
It's OK to accidentally sleep in your contacts once in a while as long as you baby your eyes the next morning. While the box warns that sleeping in your lenses increases the risk of microbial keratitis, a painful and potentially sight-threatening infection, studies suggest that the chances of developing keratitis from wearing contacts are as low as 1 in 10,000. Usually, overnight wear just leads to some irritation and inflammation.
Before you attempt to remove those contacts, add a few drops of eye lubricant. “The lens may adhere to the cornea while sleeping, so without lubrication, you risk pulling off some of the outermost layer of the eye,” says Christine Sindt, OD, associate professor of clinical ophthalmology at the University of Iowa, Iowa City. Then, immediately disinfect your lenses in their case for 4 to 6 hours. (If you have disposable lenses, throw them out). If your eye feels good, you can put the lenses back in or wear a fresh pair. (Avoid using redness-relieving dropsthey can mask signs of serious problems.) Better yet, you may want to give your eyes a break for a day and wear eyeglasses instead.
6. You forgot the condoms
If pregnancy is your concern, emergency contraception is readily available without a prescription. Women with regular cycles usually know when theyre most fertile, but that doesnt mean you should forgo emergency contraception outside of that window. Experts say that things like stress, illness, changes in your workouts, and travel could upset your usual pattern. So as soon as you have unprotected intercourse that isnt planned, hit the drugstore and ask the pharmacist for Plan B (its behind the counter), says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine.
Experts arent sure exactly how the pillwhich contains the hormone progestinprevents pregnancy, but they know it works best when used promptly. Its about 90% effective if taken within the first 24 hours after intercourse. The effectiveness decreases the longer you wait, but studies suggest the pill may work for up to five days after sex.