Does Drinking Water Prevent Hangovers?

One of the distinct pieces of advice I walked out of New Student Orientation with was to drink a cup of water after every alcoholic beverage you drink in order to prevent feeling hungover the next day. The logic behind this is that you’d be combating dehydration caused by alcohol (either by excess urination or vomiting) by hydrating your body with waterAccording to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms associated with the overconsumption of alcohol include: mood swings, headaches, increased sensitivity, disorientation, and vomiting, among many other hangover-dogeffects. After seeing so many people wearing sunglasses and buying bottles of coconut water Saturday and Sunday evenings at work, I began to wonder if this method of preventing dehydration was actually true. And if it was, maybe I could save a life and tell the next hungover person I saw: “Hey, I don’t know if you know this, but drinking water after consuming alcohol will make you feel less like a walking zombie and more like a semi-conscious human being the day after partying; it’s scientifically proven.” However, this statement hasn’t been proven, and there are two sides to the question: drinking water prevents hangovers and drinking water doesn’t prevent hangovers.

I came across this article titled “7 Evidence-Based Ways to Prevent Hangovers”, which seems ironic because the actual content of the article presents no evidence whatsoever. This was a recurring pattern prevalent in the research I conducted; articles would claim that drinking water cured hangovers, yet they didn’t really show any concrete evidence confirming this. Scientists have even published that they do not necessarily understand the causes of hangovers. If scientists themselves can’t really prove anything, then where are all these people getting this information from? It seems like these claims that water prevents hangovers are heavily reliant on anecdotal evidence, but we already know that storytelling isn’t concrete evidence. In the same manner, there are a lot of third variables woven in between this statement. For example, a person’s level of resistance to alcohol, if the person ate throughout the night, or the amount of alcohol consumed can affect whether the person will be hungover the next day.

Some studies argued that drinking water alone won’t prevent your hangover, but it can help minimize the effects associated with hangovers. After having over 25% of people in a study report that they are immune to hangovers, Canadian and Dutch scientists in the Utrecht University conducted a controlled experiment with over 789 Canadian students to understand drinking habits. They took into consideration students’ alcohol consumption, the time span during the consumption of these beverages, and how severe their hangover symptoms were the next day. With these surveys, scientists found that students were drinking too little to experience hangover symptoms the next day– students that reported hangover immunity had blood alcohol levels of less than 0.10% (third variable). To further investigate the effects of hangovers, the scientists asked 826 Dutch students if they succeeded in preventing being hungover by drinking water/eating fatty foods during and after a night of drinking. About 54% of students surveyed reported eating or drinking water after consuming alcohol. Nevertheless, students also reported that although they felt slightly better than if they had not consumed food and water, these methods didn’t prevent them from being hungover.*

When I started researching if water was actually effective for reducing the effects of alcohol, I expected to find articles confirming the statement. To my surprise, some articles surfaced negating the “myth” that water is a hangover remedy. I always thought that this statement was a fact. I figured that not only does drinking lots of water throughout the night help keep you hydrated and less thirsty, it also makes you less likely to excessively consume alcohol if you have a full bladder. In this case, although there were a lot of articles “confirming” that water helps cure hangovers, the only evidence presented was that drinking water doesn’t prevent hangovers. Therefore, even though it might lessen hangover symptoms such as thirst, it is not a proven scientific fact that drinking a cup of water after every alcoholic beverage consumed can prevent hangovers from occurring.

*If you’re looking for a way to prevent hangovers, the best way to do this is by abstaining from alcohol consumption.

**Click on the meme for a relatable Buzzfeed post!

Source 1 Source 2 Source 3 Source 4 Source 5  Source 6

4 thoughts on “Does Drinking Water Prevent Hangovers?

  1. Hannah Gluck

    This blog post was really great and I really enjoyed reading it! This is one of those things that I have been told soo many times and I had always believed it was true. Now im curious about all the other things that people say can cure a hangover. I have heard people say drinking coffee or sports drinks in the morning helps but now I have doubts after reading your blog. Are these just more commonly told myths about how to cure a hangover? or do they actually work? After looking a little more into this I found very similar conclusions. They don’t seem to prevent hangover or instantly cure them but they might lessen some of your symptoms. For example the sports drink might quench some of your thirst and give you more energy but it wont cure you and the coffee might wake you up and motivate you more but again it will not cure your hangover. Overall you need to take responsibility for your actions maybe hangover might teach you a little lesson for the next time you decide to go out.

    1. Arianna L Del Valle Post author

      Hi Hannah! Thank you for reading my post. 🙂 I didn’t think of sports drinks or coffee when asking myself this question, but I can see how that would have the same results as drinking water. Although it is important to be hydrated all throughout the day after a night of heavy drinking, I would personally stick to coconut water or just plain water. I find that energy drinks or coffee might give me a temporary boost, but I end up crashing after a few hours. I completely agree that people need to take responsibility and deal with the consequences of excessive drinking; if you don’t want to go through this, limit yourself if the first place!

  2. Grace Ellen Leibow

    This post truly caught my eye through how extensive and well-written it was! I absolutely loved how you were able to intertwine six sources, as well as include a relatable Buzzfeed post, as I have a slight obsession with Buzzfeed. Additionally, it was a great strategy to bold the important points, to keep the writing easy to follow. To comment on the topic itself, I found it truly interesting as this is something I’ve always wondered about. Often, before my roommate goes out, I recommend she drinks a half-bottle of water to ensure she’s feeling good the next morning, yet I have never stopped to wonder whether this advice is correct. In this article I found, it includes a variety of tips that help avoid a hangover. Drinking water throughout the night is the number one tip, interestingly enough. However, below is listed a variety of other clinically proven ideas to make the next morning just a little bit easier. Find the article here:

    1. Arianna L Del Valle Post author

      Thank you for your feedback! I love Buzzfeed as well, so it seemed natural that I would incorporate it to my post! I don’t really consider myself an excessive drinker, so I’ve never experienced any hangover symptoms. However, I always thought it was general knowledge that drinking water after every beverage would prevent hangovers (especially considering our Orientation Leaders told us this at NSO). I’m glad I looked into this a bit more, now I know there’s really no way to prevent hangovers. The WebMD article gives good advice, and drinking water is important to avoid dehydration. If only it prevented hangovers in the first place as well!

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