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December 18, 2018

For the last few years, the 5pm Food blog has posted a blog on hangovers, how to avoid them and how to deal with them when they do strike.

From the Estonian habit of soaking your bed socks in vodka to necking sparrow droppings in brandy - big in Hungary, apparently - we have looked at some of the more exotic cures as well as more everyday remedies such as fry-ups and ibuprofen.

This scribbler would love to tell you that we have, at last, figured a failsafe hangover cure but it remains as elusive as ever.

If anyone has suggestions, I would be delighted to hear them. In our experience, there is no such thing as a guaranteed hangover cure.

However, there are ways to avoid them and, when they do occur, methods which can help soften the blow.

To be honest, this blog is much the same as our previous hangover blogs but, until the miracle cure pill is invented, nothing will change.

Know your limits

In Estonia, soaking your socks in vodka is said to prevent a hangover.

In Estonia, soaking your socks in vodka is said to prevent a hangover.

The easiest way to avoid a hangover is, obviously, not to drink. And if that is not an option then know your limits and don't drink too much.

Of course, we always recommend drinking responsibly and within the guidelines advised by health authorities.

This is more easily said than done so...

Lining your stomach with food is certainly more helpful than drinking on an empty stomach. Alcohol irritates the stomach's lining so you might want to think twice before exacerbating the problem by scarfing a vindaloo before heading out.

While you are out, it helps to drink a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink. Hangovers are largely caused by dehydration. Taking water on board during your night out not only helps keep you hydrated but it also takes up time and stomach space that might otherwise be filled by booze.

Apart from not drinking or stopping after a couple, having a glass of water between alcoholic drinks is the best method I know of avoiding a painful morning after the night before.

Darker the drink, harder the hangover

What you choose to drink will make a big difference. White wine spritzers will be kinder to your head in the morning than a villainous line-up of thick brandies, cask strength whisky and kick-ass bourbon.

Dark drinks, and this includes red wine, have more potential for pain than white wine or less than 5% session beers. Shots never seem a good idea the next morning.

There is a school of thought which says that fizzy drinks get people drunk faster than still beverages. The idea is that the bubbles carry the alcohol to the head more quickly.

It's an engaging image but the science is far from convincing. As always, we are happy to hear alternative theories.

If you have got to the end of your night and still have the nous to recognise that tomorrow may be painful, there are ways to mitigate your incoming hangover.

More food can help - go easy on the chilli sauce - and a glass of water plus a couple of painkillers before hitting the sack are recommended.

Lay off the aspirin as they can also irritate your stomach lining.

The next day, people swear by everything from coffee and a fry-up to bananas and a stiff walk.

Some hardy souls opt for the hair of the dog - a slippery slope, especially at this time of year.

Others swear by rehydration salts.

Plenty of rest

As far as your blogger is concerned, nothing works as well as sleeping as long as possible, drinking plenty of water and just riding it out. Probably with the aid of a couple of paracetamol.

Staying well clear of social media after, say, 8pm is one way to ensure that embarrassing memories don't linger longer than your hangover. Not easy in this day and age.

Chin chin!