Can Pedialyte Cure a Hangover?

Learn more about the electrolyte drink—and how to manage or prevent hangovers

Some say Pedialyte, the liquid electrolyte beverage for rehydration, is key to curing a hangover. But is that too good to be true? Learn what Pedialyte can do for you—and how to manage your hangover symptoms in general.

What Is Pedialyte?

Pedialyte can rehydrate you by replenishing your supplies of electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. These minerals help balance your bodily fluids—an imbalance can cause dehydration, per the National Library of Medicine MedlinePlus resource.

Pedialyte also "replenishes lost fluids and essential cell nutrients such as glucose and vital salts as a result of diarrhea or vomiting," per a November 2012 paper published in the Journal of Endodontics. The solution can be used by infants, children, and adults.

If you're choosing between Pedialyte or another electrolyte-infused beverage like Gatorade, Jason Burke, MD, founder and president of Hangover Heaven, said to go with the former. "I like Pedialyte better than Gatorade, as it has more electrolytes and less sugar," Dr. Burke said.

What Is a Hangover?

Symptoms

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a hangover is "a set of symptoms that occur as a consequence of drinking too much." Symptoms vary between people, but some common ones include, per the NIAAA and MedlinePlus:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Thirst
  • Digestive symptoms: nausea and stomach pain
  • Mood symptoms: anxiety, depression, and irritability
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Vertigo—feeling like you or the room is spinning, per MedlinePlus
  • Light and sound sensitivities
  • Sweating
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat

A hangover can also impair functions such as attention, decision-making, and muscle coordination. It can prevent you from driving or operating machinery.

Hangovers typically go away within 24 hours, but some can last longer. Symptoms are most severe when the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches zero—meaning you are completely sober, per a March 2020 paper published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.

Causes

Alcohol can affect many parts of your body, per the NIAAA. It can irritate the lining of the stomach, leading to digestive symptoms. It affects the kidneys' ability to retain fluid, leading to increased urination and fluid loss, which in turn results in thirst, fatigue, and headaches. It may disrupt your sleep. And it can cause inflammation in organs such as the liver, gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and brain.

There's no sure way to determine how much drinking can lead to a hangover. You may get one after drinking more than is usual for you. If you are ill, you may get a hangover at a lower BAC, per the March 2020 paper.

Some compounds in alcoholic drinks can make hangover symptoms worse. These include congeners in dark spirits such as bourbon and sulfite preservatives in some wines, per the NIAAA. But ultimately, it doesn't matter what you drink—heavier drinking is what causes a hangover.

Drinking slowly and on a full stomach, as well as having a glass of water between drinks can help prevent a hangover, per MedlinePlus.

Can Pedialyte Help With a Hangover?

According to the NIAAA, as of March 2021, there's no research to support that electrolyte-rich drinks can reduce the severity of hangover symptoms. The NIAAA also noted the body can restore the electrolyte balance on its own.

An April 2020 study published in the journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health found that intervention with electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals did not improve or relieve hangover symptoms after moderate alcohol consumption.

But there was some disagreement on the topic, as of July 2022. According to MedlinePlus, "electrolyte solutions (such as sports drinks) and bouillon soup are good for replacing the salt and potassium you lose from drinking alcohol."

Whatever you choose to drink, hydration is important to address some of your symptoms—it can be part of mild hangover management, per a chapter in the 2014 issue of the Handbook of Clinical Neurology.

When it comes to Pedialyte, the drink can be more helpful if consumed before you go to bed, according to Dr. Burke. Rehydrating before sleep will lessen your chances of waking up dehydrated.

Other Ways To Get Rid of a Hangover

Time is ultimately the only cure for hangovers—most go away within 24 hours, per MedlinePlus. According to the NIAAA March 2021 guidance, "there is no way to speed up the brain's recovery from alcohol use." The NIAAA also noted that no remedies had been scientifically proven to alleviate hangovers.

But you may be able to address some hangover symptoms. Make sure to get plenty of rest, per MedlinePlus. Reduce sensory stimuli such as light or sound, per the 2014 chapter.

A January 2016 paper published in the journal Molecule reviewed several components found in natural products—traditional herbs, fruits, and vegetables—and found some were effective in managing hangover symptoms in humans. These included substances in ginger, Asian pear, ginseng, prickly pear, and kudzu.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind when you're experiencing a hangover, per the NIAAA:

  • Don't have an alcoholic drink in the morning
  • Don't take acetaminophen-containing pain relievers such as Tylenol—these can be toxic to the liver
  • Don't take pain relievers with aspirin or ibuprofen—these can irritate your stomach lining

If you choose to drink alcohol, try to slow down and hydrate. And take it easy the next day—the hangover will go away on its own.

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