How can I beat the hangover?

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By Vincent Karuhanga

Waking up nauseous, irritable, with an unbearably dry mouth and a pounding headache. It’s a scene familiar to most people who have indulged in a heavy night’s drinking.

Dear Doctor: I take panadol to cure hangovers. Can I get a better alternative because even when I take 10 of these tablets, they do not help my headache and muscle pain. Please help. Tammy

Hangovers are likely to happen when one takes a lot of alcohol but for some people this can happen with only one drink.

Hangover symptoms include early morning with thirst, headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue rapid heartbeat, mood disturbance, blood shot eyes and muscle aches among others.

The best way to prevent hangovers is not to drink at all but if one has to do so, drinking a lot of water or fruit juices, before, during or after drinking is the best prevention. Also eating a greasy meal before (eggs contain cysteine, which may help combat hangover symptoms) can also help. Exercise raises ones metabolic rate, which helps clear toxins associated with metabolizing alcohol apart from availing oxygen which can increase the speed at which the body detoxifies harmful compounds. Vitamin B1 or Thiamine or B complex vitamins help prevent the buildup of substances in the brain, which may be associated with part of the headache.

Many Namibians take more alcohol to cure a hangover. This creates a numbing effect but much more water will be lost and creating a bigger hangover.

Paracetamol or Panadol in big doses can damage the liver and this may be worse when one has taken alcohol requiring that it should not be used in treating hangovers. Aspirin, Brufen and Diclofenac can also damage the stomach. In case one has severe headache or other pains and cannot do without a painkiller Brufen in small doses may be preferred to paracetamol. Better a peptic ulcer than a damaged liver.

Dear Doctor:I pass smelly gas these days. I even fear to go to church because people will know I fart excessively. I have taken drugs such as Double Colour and Charcoal but nothing has worked. Martin H.

Dear Martin, the gas you are talking about is formed as a byproduct of food digestion. However some of the gas in got through swallowing but most is produced from the remains of food digestion which are fermented by intestinal bacteria. To avoid painfully distending the abdomen, this gas has to be passed out by farting normally at a rate of about 18-22 times per day.

The gas mostly does not smell except if one has stool in the rectum or has eaten foods from which gaseous smelly products are formed (such as eggs, meats and cauliflower). Double colour capsules, usually antibiotics, are taken with a belief that the stomach is getting rotten due to germs. Unfortunately, antibiotics and “washing of the stomach” done these days can worsen imbalance of bacteria in the intestines and worsen the problem. That said, the presence of bacteria called microflora in the intestines may lead to bad gas odour. It is important to note that diseases that interfere with food digestion also present much undigested food to the intestinal bacteria whose feasting may lead to smelly gas.

Much as everyone passes gas, this process carries embarrassment when one is noticed in public to have passed gas. You need to reduce on foods such as those mentioned above that are likely to cause smelly gas but if this persists, visit a doctor to rule out medical problems. In the meantime, you may consider wearing anti-fart pants which have activated carbon.

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