There are many ways to describe how you’re feeling when you wake up after a night of heavy drinking. The Germans describe it as “the wailing of cats,” while the Danish call it “the carpenters” (as in contractors sawing and hammering away inside your skull). The Italians ominously refer to it as the “after-death of drunkenness.” However you choose to name it, a classic hangover can make you wish you’d never regained consciousness. But some drinkers have adopted a new trend in hangover remedies by downing quantities of a product called Pedialyte. This combination of water and essential electrolytes may be able to repair some of the chemical imbalances you’ve wreaked upon yourself — but does it really qualify as a “cure” for hangovers? Let’s look at the facts.
Why People Treat Their Hangovers With Pedialyte
Medical science has come to understand much about the nature of hangovers. A hangover generally sets in after the euphoria created by a drinking session starts to wear off. Symptoms may include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, light and sound sensitivity, depression, anxiety, thirst, and fatigue. While not necessarily one of the major players, dehydration is often credited as a primary culprit in hangover development. The logic goes that as a diuretic, alcohol makes you urinate more than usual, making you dehydrated and stripping your body of electrolytes. Electrolytes serve several important functions, including balancing your body’s pH level and nourishing your cells by moving nutrients into them, and moving waste out. When you lose water and electrolytes, you often get an upset stomach and a pounding headache.
Enter Pedialyte. Pedialyte has traditionally been marketed as a remedy for sick and dehydrated kids. It contains a mix of water and electrolytes like potassium, sodium, and chloride, which restores the body’s natural balance of these elements and eases dehydration symptoms—and that’s why adults have recently turned to it as a hangover remedy. In fact, back in 2015, Pedialyte reported that its adult sales were up 60 percent from three years prior, and that adults had come to make up a third of their total customers. Although the FDA hasn’t approved it as an official hangover treatment, its popularity along these lines has prompted Pedialyte to create a version aimed specifically at adults who get a hangover after “late nights out with friends.”
The Ugly Truth: Dehydration Is Only Part of the Problem
Pedialyte may indeed help you feel better if you’re in the grip of a serious hangover—but it’s not a comprehensive “cure-all” solution. For one thing, “re-hydrating” the morning after means you’ve already let yourself get dehydrated in the first place, which means you’re already hung over and suffering. But perhaps more importantly, dehydration isn’t necessarily the biggest reason you feel terrible during a hangover. Recent studies show that compounds like acetaldehyde and acetate, produced by your liver while breaking down alcohol, may cause some of your greatest morning-after aches and pains. Additionally, alcohol :
- Strips your body of important B vitamins.
- Interferes with normal sleep, leaving you fatigued.
- Can cause or worsen allergies, particularly in women.
- Irritates the stomach lining.
With such a dizzying sum of ill effects, it’s almost as if a crew of carpenters really is working on your insides. And, more to the point, none of these uncomfortable hangover effects will necessarily respond to re-hydration, either with Pedialyte or any other beverage.
The Surest Hangover Remedy: Drinking Less
The smartest way to deal with hangovers is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Alternating alcoholic beverages with water, slowing your rate of drinking, or simply drinking less alcohol can help your body process the alcohol it receives more efficiently, resulting in fewer damaging effects. Drinking less isn’t easy for all people, however. Cutting back can prove difficult or even impossible if you’ve built up a dependency on alcohol.
Fortunately, Ria Health can help you break that cycle. Our telemedicine-based approach to alcohol reduction gives you access to medication that can reduce your cravings, while helping you modify your drinking behaviors once and for all. Our team of coaches is available to support you every step of the way, through a convenient smartphone app. Before you know it, those hangovers may become a distant memory–and your mornings will be free of carpenters and caterwauling cats!