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BOOSTER SHOTS: Oddities, musings and news from the
health world

The hangover: It's not just fun, games and blockbuster movies

May 26, 2011|By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog
  • Actor Bradley Cooper arrives on the red carpet for the premiere of the Warner Bros. film, "The Hangover Part II" at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
Actor Bradley Cooper arrives on the red carpet for the premiere of the Warner… (Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty…)

With the "The Hangover Part II" opening to general audiences Thursday, this might be a prime moment to remember that hangovers are not merely the kickoff to wild adventures involving Bradley Cooper and a cocaine-addled capuchin monkey.

Hangovers often involve headache, dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light and fatigue. Though not limited to the morning after, that's when their effects are typically felt.

Though the cause -- consumption of alcohol to the point of intoxication -- is obvious, how and why exactly drinking causes them remain less clear.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are many factors that could have a hand in crafting the perfect, skull-spliting hangover. Alcohol causes people to urinate excessively and become dehydrated (leading to dizziness and thirst). It can provoke an inflammatory response from the immune system (affecting your ability to concentrate), irritate the stomach lining (causing nausea and stomach pain), and open up the blood vessels (causing headaches). 

Some people might be more susceptible, as well -- they feel the hurt after just one glass of red wine, while a blessed few drink much more and wake up with minimal effects the next day.

Are there any hangover cures? Most of them are probably old wives' tales or Internet scams. As previously blogged, a 2005 study tested several methods out and concluded that abstinence or moderation were the only surefire ways to not suffer a hangover. And if it's too late for abstinence, time is probably the only truly effective cure.

Though if your hangover finds you in Bangkok, Thailand, with an unfortunate tattoo on your face, any wisdom scientists may provide is probably a moot point.

Follow me on Twitter @LAT_aminakhan.

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