Hangover Helper: What Works, What Doesn't

A doctor busts some myths on preventing the New Year's Day curse.

Dec. 31, 2008 — -- If you drink alcohol, you've probably had a hangover at least once in your life -- the pounding headache, nausea, cotton mouth, exhaustion. For many, that hangover comes on Jan. 1.

While there's no "cure" for a hangover, "Good Morning America" contributor Dr. Marie Savard busts some myths and offers tips on how to prevent that New Year's Day hangover.

Drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages will sober you up and keep a hangover headache away.

False. Caffeine only acts as a stimulant and interferes with your sleep. It may also make you urinate more and add to dehydration. Only time and a healthy liver to metabolize the alcohol will sober you up.

Taking pain relievers like aspirin after drinking will prevent a hangover.

False. Not only doesn't this work, it can be dangerous. Even a dose or two of aspirin can erode the stomach, causing gastritis, which would only be compounded by the stomach irritant effects of alcohol. Mixing acetominophen and alcohol can lead to acute liver inflammation.

Taking pain relievers the next morning can help.

True. Although taking pain relievers won't prevent your hangover, taking them in the morning with a full breakfast to avoid stomach irritation will treat your hangover headache. Since pain relievers only last four to six hours, it's silly to take them before going to bed because they will be out of your system by morning when your headache occurs.

Eating a big meal before going to sleep lessens the effects of a hangover.

False. A big meal, especially a fat-filled one, such as eggs and bacon, will stay in your stomach and interfere with sleep and possibly cause reflux. So, you'll wake up feeling even worse.

Eating a big meal before drinking can help prevent a hangover.

True. Eat that hearty fat-filled meal before drinking. It will fill you up and decrease your alcohol absorption.

Hangovers: What Works and What Doesn't

Beer is the best beverage to avoid a hangover.

True. Drinking beer fills you up, so in many cases you'll drink less alcohol. New Year's Eve is the time for breaking open a bottle of bubbly, but while champagne and wine may look innocent, they're full of other additives and chemicals more likely to cause headaches and hangovers.

Drinking a little more alcohol will help you sleep off a hangover.

False. The only way to get over a hangover is a good night's sleep. Some people think they can sleep through a hangover by taking another shot just before they go to sleep, but that won't do it. Alcohol may be an acute sedative, but it interferes with REM sleep and you will wake up frequently and not get a restorative sleep.

Drinking fluids, like juice, will help you feel better.

True. Drink lots of juices with potassium and vitamins. It's been shown antioxidants and sugar help minimize symptoms of a hangover. You're dehydrated and your blood sugar is down, so you need sugar and fluids.

And Most Importantly...

Don't overindulge in the first place. One alcoholic drink -- a 12-ounce beer, glass of wine or mixed drink -- takes about an hour to metabolize.

Don't drink and drive. Have a designated driver and a "sober buddy" to see you home safely.