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hangover (GB)

Physical condition (also hangover) after excessive consumption of alcohol, a intoxication. The meaning is unclear, according to one of the versions it is not derived from the animal, but from a sloppy pronunciation of the word "catarrh", which was once used in common parlance for general discomfort and headaches. An old popular term for a state of intoxication was "drunk as a cat". Since hangovers or cats (animals) are not potential alcoholics, this is actually absurd. Possibly, however, this has a relation to the basement cat. The condition manifests itself through migraines, severe headaches, dizzy spells, trembling, stomach aches, heart rhythm disturbances, nausea, reddening of the skin etc. Recent studies have also proven negative influences on the necessary dream sleep phase (REM sleep = Rapid Eye Movement).

Aschenbecher mit Trunkenbold / Cartoon mit betrunkener Katze, die auf Kater wartet

Alcoholic beverages with a low content of accompanying substances (such as vodka or clear brandies) rarely cause a hangover. With high contents (for example brandy, whisky and fruit brandy) this is more likely. A hangover often occurs with mixed consumption of different types of spirits. Mainly responsible for this are substances like fusel oils and histamine, but especially acetaldehyde (ethanal). This substance, which is formed during fermentation as a precursor to alcohol, is more often found in wines with fermentation problems. It is difficult for the liver to break it down and it accumulates at the synapses in the brain. There it is transformed into formaldehyde, which is difficult to break down. The breakdown of alcohol is inhibited by sugar, so the hangover is particularly intense in sweet alcoholic drinks such as liqueurs and punch. However, the sulphur in wine, which is also often mentioned, is probably not the cause of the hangover according to the latest findings.

One preventive measure is to eat foods containing fat, as this delays absorption (absorption of alcohol into the body). Measures against a hangover are headache medication, vitamin C in the form of oranges, black tea with table salt, sour fish or bullrich salt dissolved in water. The intake of mineral salts (soups - especially the "panacea" chicken soup) and plenty of fluids also helps, as alcohol strongly dehydrates the body. Equally beneficial is an increased intake of vitamins B and A, both of which can accelerate the breakdown of alcohol. Physical exertion should be avoided in any case because of expected circulation problems. Absolutely negative is further or recent alcohol consumption. Although it leads to a short-term, subjective improvement of the condition, it is catastrophic from a health point of view.

Regarding alcohol abuse see under alcoholism and health. Scurrile stories on this topic from antiquity to modern times with prominent protagonists can be found under intoxication, satyricon and drinking culture.

Picture left (ashtray 19th century): By Huhu Uet - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

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