How to Avoid Unpleasant Side Effects of Alcohol
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How to Avoid Unpleasant Side Effects of Alcohol

How to avoid and lessen allergic reactions to alcohol.

Drinking is a common social activity- from wine tastings, to frat parties, to small friendly get togethers.  The way alcohol seems to relax a person can be appealing- a person who is 'tipsy' or drunk can be downright amusing.  There are those who may experience side effects when drinking. Common side effects include heartburn, stomach ache, headaches, nausea, and vomiting; all of which are very unpleasant.  However, there are things you can do to mitigate or even avoid these symptoms altogether.


Heartburn is caused by stomach acids leaking into the esophagus- that being said, avoid acids!  Avoid anything greasy or acidic like pizza, or citrus juices, as they will stay in your stomach longer and worsen heartburn.  Try to eat dairy products like cheeses, or if snacking while drinking, opt for baked chips.  Anything bland, or "base" (the opposite of an acid) will help stave of heartburn.  You should also avoid smoking, first or second hand, as this can worsen heartburn.

Keep your head elevated- resist the urge to drape yourself headfirst over the couch.  If you keep your head and neck elevated, gravity will help keep things down.

If you know you're prone to heartburn, be sure to give yourself time without eating or drinking anything for a while before you crash for the night.

Stomach aches

Stomach aches happen whenever you eat or drink something that doesn't agree with you.  There are few ways to prevent a stomach ache if you have allergic reactions to alcohol, but there are some things you can do to help yourself feel better.

Menthol anything: cough drops, peppermint, gum- the mint will help your stomach relax.  Be wary of peppermint however- it's great at calming upset stomachs but not so great for heartburn.

Apply heat to relax muscles- a warm towel, or even just sit with a blanket while you wind down.

Sip some ice cold water and nibble on something small- sometimes stomach aches are caused by hunger as well.

Stay still- don't jump around, and definitely no spinning in circles.

If the pain is severe and/or persistent, you may have an ulcer or other underlying condition.  In this case, go see your doctor.


The most common cause of headaches is dehydration; so don't skimp on water.  It's a good idea to have a glass nearby even while drinking alcohol so you can sip from it occasionally.  Drinking water, and eating, will also fill up space in your stomach, space that would otherwise be taken up by more alcohol.

Avoid taking medications while consuming alcohol- alcohol could counteract the medication, making it useless, or interact with it, causing other problems.

A good method of prevention is to make sure you stay fully hydrated throughout the day, before you party.  Try to drink half your weight in ounces of water: if you weigh 200lbs, you should drink 100oz of water.  There are 8oz in one cup, so that's about 12 and 1/2 measured cups of water.


Get some fresh air!  The more clean oxygen the better, as this will speed up the metabolic action that cycles the alcohol out of your bloodstream.  Sit on your back porch, rather than couped up indoors.

Munch on saltine crackers, or a piece of bread- anything light and bland that won't agitate your stomach further.  Do everything slowly!  That means little sips, little bites, and little steps.


If you're nauseous to the point of feeling like you're going to vomit, consider this: sugary drinks will also calm the stomach- even enough to prevent vomiting.  Sip a little soda or apple juice- nothing too acidic like orange juice or lemonade.

As with nausea, move slowly, and get fresh air.  Avoid anything that might make you gag, like strong smells... or other people being sick.

Know Your Limit

The easiest way to avoid or lessen any symptom is to know your limit.  Your weight can greatly affect how much you can handle.  In two hours, you can safely have 1 drink for every 50lbs you weigh.  So if you're 200lbs, 4 drinks every two hours is plenty.

Throughout the night, stand up, walk around, and mentally judge your own sobriety- it may sound silly, but the point is to take a mental note of how your body is feeling.  If you're already feeling sick, don't drink any more, and remember to drink less next time.

Don't drink at anyone else's pace.  Everyone has a different limit and you only have to cross the line to become sick- don't forget there is such a thing as alcohol poisoning!

Helpful Hints

Prepare ahead of time.  Feed and water yourself with the above tips prior to drinking

Keep in mind that carbonated beverages cause the alcohol in them to be absorbed into the bloodstream faster, so champagne will do you in faster than wine.

That old saying 'liquor before beer' rings true to this extent- if you drink liquor first, drinking beer afterwards will help you ride out any effects from the alcohol.  Conversely, if you drink beer until you're drunk then add liquor on top of it, you could end up in the hospital.

Of course, the only way to really prevent any and all symptoms is to avoid drinking all together.  An allergic reaction, even a hangover, can be seen as your body's way of telling you to knock it off.


Never drink and drive- if you have to ask yourself if you're okay to drive, you're probably not.  Plan ahead and have a place to crash or a designated driver if you're not drinking at home. This is for your safety, as well as those around you.

Be aware of how much you drink- if you or anyone else with you exhibits signs of alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately.  Signs include extreme confusion and/or stupor, slowing of breath (slow is about 8 breaths per minute), pale or blue skin, any seizure like activity, or loss of consciousness.

Long term or heavy use of alcohol can have serious effects, including but not limited to: liver failure, heart conditions, addiction, and brain damage.

Alcoholism is a serious disease.  If your drinking is interfering with your daily life- work, friends, and family- or if it's causing on-going physical and mental health issues, it could be a sign of alcoholism.  If you feel you or someone you know may be an alcoholic, or on their way to becoming one, seek help from loved ones and professionals.  (

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