How’s it hanging?

IT NEEDS NO introduction.

The Danes call it ‘carpenters in the head’, the Germans a ‘tomcat’ and the Mexicans, quite appropriately, just feel ‘raw’.  A rite of passage into adulthood, the hangover is something most of us have to suffer after a good night out (or in). In fact, as I write this, I’m sure there are students all over the country and beyond still nursing their poor heads after a heavy week of house music and cheap spirits. I feel a bit smug writing this without one, though it wasn’t long ago when I was in a similar situation myself. I’m the first to agree they’re not fun – some might say evil – and they play havoc with our heads and the rest of our bodies, leaving us physical and emotional wrecks, slumped somewhere between the bed and the toilet, wanting our mummies and making the classic move of saying we’ll ‘never drink again’. Yeah right. But what is a hangover exactly?

As we’re all aware, in a nutshell, a hangover is what I can only describe as a car crash of side effects we feel after a heavy bout of drinking. These can range from the trademark moodiness, headache and nausea to things like drooling too much, a lack of concentration and even an increased heartbeat. That said, hangover symptoms are as varied as Lindsay Lohan’s drinks cabinet, and their seriousness is unsurprisingly linked to what you drank – and how much – the night before. Darker drinks – think red wine or whiskey, for example – are higher in toxins that worsen our hangovers, whereas white wine and clear spirits aren’t quite as bad. Likewise, the more expensive the drink, and the higher its quality, it will naturally contain fewer toxins. There you go – one step to avoid feeling like a bear with a sore head the next morning is to steer clear of that £3.99 bottle of rosé at The Co-op on your way into town. Whatever you’re drinking, too much of it does nasty things to our bodies.  Why do think the cocktail is called a ‘Zombie’, huh? It will send your sugar levels right down, giving you that infamous dizziness (and the consequent falling over) making you feel fairly queasy the next day. It’ll also fill the blood with molecules called cytokines – which is what’s released when we’ve got a cold or the flu. That explains why we feel so knackered, want to throw up and get such blinding headaches. But it’s not just how many 2-for-1 Jägerbombs you manage to put away that decide how bad you’ll feel the next day, but a whole host of different factors: your stature, your age, your gender (women get worse hangovers than men, apparently), your alcohol threshold (that’s whether you’re a lightweight or not), whether you had anything to eat beforehand and how much sleep you’ve had all play a part. So unfortunately, there are some things we can’t control. Sorry girls.

Trust me – in my hours of sobriety and hangover-ness, I have looked extensively for hangover cures. My efforts were in vain, so don’t try and look for yourself because there is no real cure. Alcohol and all its spiteful friends get into our bloodstream, making them difficult to just ‘get rid of’. Hangovers will stay for as long they want and we can do little but let them run their course. That said, as sensible students, there are a few things we can do to at least minimise the effects, both before and afterwards.

  1. Eat before you begin drinking. Something high in fat (pizza’s a good move) will help to limit the amount of alcohol soaked up into the bloodstream as it sort of creates a lining in the stomach. Milk can do the same thing, but eating something isn’t a bad idea.
  2. Drink water throughout the day before and the night itself. It might seem like a bit of a chore, but getting into the habit of drinking a glass of water with every tipple is worthwhile as it keeps your body nice and hydrated.
  3. Never mix grape and grain! Choose beer, wine or spirits at the start of your bender and stick to it – if you start mixing then you’re taking in even more alcohol. And of course, drinking more alcohol will probably equal a worse hangover. From personal experience, I implore you not to do this to yourself.

As for the morning after:

  1. Eat something. If you can really stomach it, a fry-up might do you good. If you’re a bit more delicate, then take in bland, simple carbs like bread or crackers to help raise your glucose levels. I can barely stand any form of food or human interaction for the duration of a hangover, which is probably why I always feel so bloody awful. Will try this next time.
  2. Water. Again.
  3. Get some sleep. It’s hard to fall asleep when you feel as though you’ve walked across the M25, but sleep will let your body do its job and (most importantly in my eyes) give you a break from feeling rough.

And finally, just to lighten the mood and get you through that zombielike state, you might like to know there’s a proper, proper word for feeling hungover in English – crapulous. It’s pretty old-fashioned now but it shouldn’t be because it’s brilliant. It sounds like a blend of ‘crap’ and ‘fabulous’ and I shall use it forevermore. On that note, here’s how some of our foreign friends see a hangover:

Albania – gjellë e mbetur (‘remaining dish’)

China – 宿醉 (sú ziú) (‘former drunkenness’)

Colombia – guyabo (‘guava tree’) (I don’t get it either)

Czech Republic – kocovina

Germany – Kater

Netherlands – kater

Poland – kac

(all roughly meaning ‘tomcat’, as you simply sleep all day)

Denmark – tømmermaend (‘carpenters (in the head)’)

France – gueule de bois (‘wooden gob’)

Hungary – másnaposság (‘next-day-ish-ness’)

Iceland – thynnka (‘thinness’)

Ireland – póit (‘remnant’) (though I’m sure the Irish hangover is much, much worse than just a ‘remnant’)

Italy – postumi della sbornia (‘day-after drunkenness’)

Mexico – crudo (‘raw’)

Russia – пережиток (pokhmel’ye) (‘relic’)

Spain – resaca (‘backwash’)

Sweden – baksmalla (‘smack on the ass’)

Turkey – aksamdan kalmalık (‘evening remainders’)

Vietnam – dựng xiên (‘built wonky’)

and my personal favourite…

Venezuela – ratón (‘rat’) or even better: enratonado (‘ratted’)

I Hate Hangovers

Image from


4 thoughts on “How’s it hanging?

  1. Hmm, in Australia I e never heard of that phrase for a hangover. It’s more used as a slang way to say ‘how are you’ although when used with most men, they make reference to their ‘bits’ in the answer.

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