How to cure a hangover

No-one would advocate excessive drinking but there are times of celebration when the best of us can get carried away. If you've gone slightly overboard of an evening, or can see a heavy night on the cards, there's no need to write off the next day. Our top 10 tips will help you ease a hangover, and possibly even avoid one altogether...

A woman taking a tablet with some water

It’s a familiar feeling – a heavy head, over-sensitivity to light and noise, sickness and a raving thirst – hangovers make you wonder whether it was all worth it! With the majority of us enjoying a glass or two as part of a celebration, here are our top 10 tips to prevent or, if all else fails, ease that hungover feeling...

On the day...

1. Never drink on an empty stomach – dairy including milk and yogurt are excellent stomach liners, so if you’re not going to be eating on your night out enjoy a small carton of plain yogurt with a banana, a bowl of cereal with milk or some cheese and biscuits before you venture out. However, during the evening, avoid salty snacks like peanuts and crisps because they are likely to make you more thirsty and may cause you to drink more.

2. Limit fizzy alcoholic drinks – it's true these really do go straight to your head. The bubbles they contain speeds up your absorption of alcohol, so limit the number of glasses of sparkling wine, fizzy cocktails and champagne.

3. Avoid a nightcap – darker drinks especially spirits like brandy or whisky have a higher level of compounds called congeners, which are formed during the fermentation and distilling process. These compounds are thought to make your hangover worse – so if you must have a nightcap, choose a light-coloured spirit instead.

4. Before you call it a night stop that hangover in its tracks by drinking plenty of hydrating fluid – plain water is perfect.

A glass of water

The morning after…

5. Avoid the hair of the dog – no matter what they say, more alcohol is really not the answer.

6. Now you need more than just water – a sports drink or a rehydration drink will help restore your hydration levels. You can make your own rehydration drink by dissolving six level teaspoons of sugar and half a level teaspoon of salt in a litre of water and sip throughout the day. An oral rehydration solution like this, sipped slowly, may help you replace not just the water you've lost but the sugars and essential salts as well.

7. Limit caffeine – you may be desperate for that caffeine pick-me-up but drinking too many cups of tea or coffee will only make dehydration worse – so stick to one cuppa until you’re feeling yourself again.

8. Tuck in to a nourishing breakfast – it’s the best way to replace the vitamins and minerals that your body will have lost as it worked hard to process the alcohol.  If you can’t face food, even a bowl of breakfast cereal fortified with folate and iron should help to redress some of the damage and lift your energy levels. Alternatively, if your stomach is up for it opt for B-rich wholegrains like a piece of wholemeal toast with a poached or scrambled egg, some grilled tomatoes and mushrooms and finish with a glass of orange juice.

9. Avoid aspirin or ibuprofen – you may think they’ll sort your head out but they’ll only irritate your upset stomach further.

10. Resist your sugar cravings – you may be longing for a sugary fix but don’t indulge yourself. Sugary drinks and foods will only add to your already unbalanced blood sugar levels. Instead satisfy your sugar fix naturally by choosing fresh fruit for its vitamin and water content or blend yourself a fruit and yogurt smoothie.

An office worker at a desk with cups of coffee

Government guidelines…

Check out Government guidelines and make sure you know exactly how many units are in alcoholic drinks. It's recommended you set aside at least two days, preferably consecutive, to be alcohol free. You should also spread your alcohol consumption over three or more days – this is because heavy drinking sessions may put your health at risk. Find more top tips from Drinkaware on how to drink responsibly.

For more information visit

Now read...

How to drink responsibly
Hangover cures: Fact or fiction?
How many calories are in alcoholic drinks?
How many units are in alcoholic drinks?

This article was last reviewed on 2nd November 2018 by nutritional therapist Kerry Torrens.

Kerry Torrens is a qualified Nutritionist (MBANT) with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.

All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact  your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

Have you tried out the tips above? Do they work for you or will you be sticking to a full fry-up after a big night out? Let us know below...

Comments, questions and tips

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6th Dec, 2018
whoever wrote this clickbait nonsense has got needs to rethink what the words 'cure' and 'prevention' mean
Sans Souci
1st Oct, 2017
My own approach: 1) Don't drink excessively. 2) Drink at least a 1 litre of water before going to bed. 3) Don't go to sleep. Yes knackering, but no hangover, as you drink water when needed.
1st Oct, 2017
I was a super hard drinker for 35 years....I am now 10 months sober.....even one drink is poison...Period ....There is no hangover cure bottom line ....Alcohol tears you up and makes you unhealthy....that flood of Dopamine that gives you that fuzzy high for 3 hours maybe 5 will pay back with 24 plus hours of recovery...Bottom line ...Drinking Sucks
Anton Ossa
30th Sep, 2017
A hangover is nature's way of letting you know that you drank too much, next time don't!
19th Jun, 2015
All comments are promoting their own websites; does the BBC not bother to moderate comments on its websites? My hangover cure? Drink loads of coconut water and eat a few bananas.
21st Dec, 2014
Depending on what you have been drinking, Hair of the Dog can work. Methanol it metabolised to formaldehyde and other chemicals that are implicated in hangovers, drinking more ethanol puts the metabolisation of methanol on hold. It will get processed again when your liver runs out of ethanol but it will give you time to process and excrete the methanol metabolites responsible for some of your symptoms. The ratio of salt to sugar to water in this article is way off and would possibly make a hangover worse. The fastest way to rehydrate is to use 6 teaspoons of sugar to half a teaspoon of salt in 2 pints of water. This gives you a 1:1 ratio of sugar to salt concentration which is optimum, drink it before going to bed and as soon as you get up for far better results.
19th Feb, 2017
"However, unlike ethanol, methanol is highly toxic and unfit for consumption. At room temperature, it is a polar liquid, and is used as an antifreeze, solvent, fuel, and as a denaturant for ethanol. It is also used for producing biodiesel via transesterification reaction." Your theory is idiotic and based on nothing.
2nd Jan, 2014
There was a scientific research done one or two years ago that proved "sugary" fixes are exactly what is needed to deal with the hangover faster. Of course, honey is much better than white refined sugar, it's all about making healthier choices, but advising against sugar is wrong given the latest in science.
chrisnation's picture
28th Dec, 2016
Why is honey "of course, much better" than white sugar? It is not. Short term, as a hangover remedy, they are both sugars (glucose and fructose) and, as honey does have other constituents, is absorbed slightly more slowly, so you might say is holding up the benefit. If your h/over is bad enough that you have a gyppie tummy, I have found that cola or something like it, works extremely well. The carbonic acid is a bit like yer old Epsom Salts effect and the sugar does its job. At my workshop we had a fridge. The only thing ever in it was milk. I like my tea and coffee black so when my pal arrived with his milk, opened the fridge and saw a couple of cans of cola, he said " Been on the razz, have we?" But the best thing is to take evasive action before going to bed. Drink water till it's coming out of your ears. Just neck the stuff. Litres. Get it down asap, while as much as poss of the alc is still to be absorbed into your blood stream. You may have to get up repeatedly but that's OK. Just replace with yet more water. I have found that you can head a hangover off at the pass - mostly - this way
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1st Oct, 2017
Don't stay in bed. Walk, breathe. Force yourself. It definitely pays off well.