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msnbc.com contributor
updated 1/3/2007 6:06:22 PM ET 2007-01-03T23:06:22

Editor's Note: This article includes a correction from a previous version.

So, you didn’t listen. You ignored our well-intentioned advice on how to prevent a hangover . Now you’re paying for it.

You’re probably still tangled in the sheets when regret slaps you awake. What made you think you could act 20 again? The body doesn’t rebound that well anymore, if it ever did. Your head throbs and a fog sets in. Then comes the dry mouth. To top things off, your insides feel like they’ve been put through the ringer. In other words, you’re in Total Hell.

Is there anything you can do to feel human again? Sort of.

First, you must hydrate. With every gulp of booze last night, you sucked your body dry. Dehydration leads to all kind of problems, including that aching head. Plus, when breaking down alcohol, the body dumps electrolytes. Sports drinks can help fight that woozy feeling. Drink as much water, Gatorade or orange juice as you can, says Yuri Kato, publisher of the online Cocktail Times.

Next, try taking vitamins. Alcohol blocks the body’s absorption of vitamins B6 and B12 and a dose of multi-vitamin may help get your body back into balance. “Your body is feeling sick because alcohol took away your goodies. Restore your bodies with all those good things,” Kato says.

"There’s a logical appeal to that," says Aaron White, an assistant research professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center. "Alcohol is a diuretic, flushing all kinds of stuff out of your system."

Unfortunately, he adds, there's "zero evidence" that taking vitamins actually helps reduce symptoms. However, it can't hurt.

Chow down. While your body tries to rid itself of alcohol, your blood-sugar levels can plunge.

That's why the morning after finds many folks at their local diner munching on some greasy comfort food. Meals of bacon, toast, eggs and hash browns have seemingly re-nourished many hangover victims. That may be because eggs contain cysteine, which helps break down acetaldehyde, a toxin that promotes those hangover feelings.

You may also benefit from bananas, which can help you feel better by replenishing the potassium lost in all those alcohol-induced trips to the loo.

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If you're really dragging, expertsalso advise eating complex carbs like crackers, bread, pasta and cereal to help get your blood sugar back to normal levels.

But don't overdo it; eating too much food can upset an already queasy stomach.

Go easy on pain pills. Popping a few over-the-counter pain pills may ease your aching head, but since the alcohol is more than likely already irritating your stomach, pain relievers can make an already troubled tummy feel worse.

So go easy when reaching for aspirin or ibuprofen. And avoid Tylenol, which contains acetaminophen and is processed by the liver, which is likely already under stress from all the alcohol.

“Aspirin and other inflammatory drugs taken at bedtime may help with the symptoms of a hangover because they reduce inflammation of the stomach lining. On the other hand, painkillers can also irritate the stomach. But on the whole, I think they're probably useful in small amounts,” says Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld, a professor of clinical medicine at Cornell University's Weill Medical College. “Tylenol, on the other hand, should be avoided if you have any liver problems or are a heavy drinker.”

What about the age-old remedy: hair of the dog? There’s some science behind why you feel better with a Bloody Mary or Mimosa at brunch, says Dr. Robert Swift, a professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University Medical School.

If you look at hangovers as a kind of alcohol withdrawal, it’s reasonable to expect some relief with another drink. But you’re really just postponing the inevitable. The hangover will catch up with you as soon as you stop drinking.

Get some rest. Passing out doesn’t quite count as a good night’s sleep. It’s also best to stay away from any really demanding work the next day because you’re probably still impaired. “Alcohol messes up your biological rhythms,” Swift said, comparing hangovers to a kind of jet lag.

Looking for a miracle? There are plenty of so-called miracle cures, over-the-counter products that promise the return of bliss — or at least feeling human — for hangover victims. The products run the gamut, from GoodbyeHangovers (a pill containing GTF chromium, white willow bark and activated calcium carbonate) to British wake-up fizzy pill Berocca (meant as more of an energy supplement, but some use it for its sobering-up effect) to natural remedies like PartySmart and RU-21 (vitamin C, sugar and a combination of acids).

At hangoverreview.com, Los Angeles aerospace programmer Mike Pearson decided to try out 52 products that claimed to do the job. On Pearson’s site, the top-rated review was for Sob'r-K HangoverStopper, which has as its key ingredient 100 percent pharmaceutical-grade activated carbon.

But tests conducted by manufacturers and testimonials aside, there's no real science behind any of these supplements.

Wait a while. While some of these steps may help, when it comes down to it, only time will heal the wounded body — and pride.

Athima Chansanchai is a reporter for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

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