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Celebrate in moderation to avoid those post-party blues

Everybody reacts to alcohol a little bit differently, according to age, body weight and other, more nebulous, genetic factors.

New Year’s Eve brings with it several questions, like:  What have a done in the past year? What do I want to do next year? How much can I get away with tonight?For many, the desire to send off one year and the usher in another also entails planning for the following morning. It’s difficult to start the New Year fresh and filled with optimism if you feel like spending the first day of it hiding your head under a pillow or wishing the walls would stay in place. You may even now be searching the internet, looking for miracle hangover cures, or stocking up on those ‘morning after’ hangover relievers.Well, good luck with that.There’s only one sure-fire way to avoid a hangover, and that’s to avoid alcohol all together.Everybody reacts to alcohol a little bit differently, according to age, body weight and other, more nebulous, genetic factors. What one person can safely consume might make another dreadfully ill—or worse. But there are steps you can take to limit your risk if you intend to celebrate the end of 2012 with a cocktail or two.First of all, don’t drink on an empty stomach. Having food in your system will help absorb some of the alcohol. As with any meal, strive for a good combination of protein and carbs.Second, pace yourself. Again, there’s no safe formula for how much you can drink based on our body weight and tolerance levels. That’s particularly true if you’re going out and have no control over the amount of alcohol in your drink, or if you choose a micro-brewed or craft style beer over, say, a Bud Light.  “Any time you have more than one drink per hour, it can give you problems,” said Oakwood-affiliated internist and ER Dr. John Zazaian.It will also help if you keep yourself hydrated. Alcohol tends to dry the body out. One way is through increased urination, which leads to dehydration. Drink some water or juice throughout the night and avoid mixing your drinks with caffeine-laced liquids, like energy drinks. I had a friend, a police officer, who alternated drinking a glass of beer with a glass of water. He never over-indulged (and he had the cheapest tab, too!).The type of drink you select may weigh in, too. Studies have suggested that darker drinks, such as bourbon and whiskey or darker beers, are more prone to leave you with a hangover than their lighter counterparts.If you do imbibe too heavily tonight—or any other night, for that matter—first of all, find a safe way home.In the morning, you’re going to want to rehydrate yourself and try some bland food—crackers, toast or something similar to get you started—to get your sugar levels up and settle your stomach. Aspirin will help relieve the pain caused by those swollen veins in your head. Be careful which type you use, however, because Tylenol and other drugs have been linked to liver problems. Additional sleep, if that’s an option, will help you, too.As for the over the counter pills or other homemade remedies like drinking sauerkraut juice (which, I must confess, sounds like it was a rumor started by the sauerkraut lobby. I can imagine nothing worse.), they may be more wishful thinking than anything else.“The only real cure for a hangover is time,” said Dr. Zazaian. They last anywhere from 12-72 hours. If you experience or see someone experiencing symptoms beyond those of a mere hangover, such as prolonged vomiting, unsteady gait, uneven heart beat or shallow, irregular breathing, seek medical attention; it may be the onset of alcohol poisoning.Stay safe, everyone, and Happy New Year!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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