Overzealous celebrants of the new year might find themselves with a few familiar, if highly uncomfortable, symptoms on Monday morning.
Bright lights and loud noises as well as offers of large breakfasts are likely to be met with derisive looks, or even worse, projectile vomiting. It‘s not dying, it just feels like it. It‘s a hangover.
The science of hangovers is pretty simple. Alcohol has a double-whammy dehydration effect — causing the drinker to urinate more often and irritating the lining of the stomach.
Doctors and other folks with plain old common sense tout water as the miracle hangover prevention plus never drinking on an empty stomach.
But, as Longmont United Hospital Emergency Room Director Danny Wade said, some folks are going to ignore common sense anyway.
“Common sense is clearly not very common,” Wade said. “You know, don‘t overindulge, don‘t drink and drive, have a designated driver and all those safety items. Increase your water intake and non-alcoholic intake before, during and after drinking.”
Wade said that the Longmont United ER typically sees one or two patients per day for whom alcohol is the primary diagnosis in their medical problem. On New Year‘s Day, however, that number jumps to 15 to 20 people.
“It‘s very isolated to that date. Even looking at the holidays, it‘s more significant on New Year‘s than on Christmas or even Thanksgiving,” Wade said. “You start to see an uptick at about 3 in the afternoon (on New Year‘s Eve) and then they really start rolling in at about 1 a.m. on New Year‘s Day. It‘s not the place you want to spend the first day of the year.”
Dr. Jamie Teumer, medical director of the emergency department at Longs Peak Hospital, concurred.
“People on their 21st birthday is another common time for us to see people (for hangovers) but over the holidays, we see more people at this time than at any other,” Teumer said.
UCHealth spokeswoman Kati Blocker gave New Year‘s alcohol-related patients for Poudre Valley Hospital, since Longs Peak Hospital was not open for the first day of 2017.
At the Poudre Valley ER, doctors see an average of 6.6 patients for alcohol-related visits. But on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, that average jumps about 40 percent to 9.33 patients, Blocker said.
It‘s all well and good for doctors to tell you what to do before you have a hangover, but what about afterwards?
There are plenty of home remedies and anecdotal cures. Longmont resident Stephanie Bissell said that she heard that a Coca-Cola, an aspirin and a grape otter pop will cure a hangover.
“I usually don‘t have all three handy,” Bissell said.
Loveland resident Justin French suggested hangover sufferers consume some incredible edible eggs.
“Water and eggs for breakfast, lots of eggs. They will replace the proteins alcohol strips from you,” French said.
Longmont resident Matt Mosher said he takes his wife‘s advice of Midol washed down with vitamin water.
“I‘m not a hangover expert or anything,” Mosher added.
The experts at the emergency rooms say that really hydration and electrolytes are the only surefire cure for a hangover, and if you can administer them yourself at home, it‘ll be a lot cheaper and easier than a trip to the ER.
“If you‘re otherwise healthy, in reality all we‘re doing is shortening the duration (of the hangover),” Teumer said. If you can stay home and drink water all day or a sports drink, that‘s the same thing we do. With an IV, we can do in an hour what you can do in half a day to replenish. We‘re just expediting the process. Unless you‘re actively vomiting and can‘t keep fluids down at home, there‘s no reason to come see us.”
Related to hydration, the ER directors said that contrary to the image of someone making coffee for a hungover friend, coffee or any caffeine is a bad idea.
“It‘ll just result in additional dehydration even if you have some increased awareness and you feel a little clear headed, it‘s not a good idea,” Wade said. “Just stick to something that has electrolytes or just plain water.”
There is one other option for those who need immediate hangover relief but don‘t want to pay an emergency room bill — an IV bar opened in Boulder a month and a half ago.
OnusIV offers appointments and walk-in availability for IV hydration therapy. The treatment is similar to what someone with a nasty hangover would get at an ER — an IV line to rehydrate with some essential vitamins thrown in.
“It‘s the best thing after partying and celebrating. The most popular one for hangovers is called The Phoenix because it has B vitamins to help with nausea,” OnusIV Nurse Manager Ronnie Waggoner said.
OnusIV in Boulder is staffed by nurses and can accommodate eight dehydrated people at a time in a non-clinical setting with TV and WiFi, Waggoner said.
Some people have even booked pre-party New Year‘s Eve appointments, but there‘s still room on both Sunday and Monday, Waggoner said.
The Phoenix treatment runs $115, but there‘s a $10 discount for new clients. Waggoner said that some clients who come in after a night of partying have important meetings on Jan. 1 and need to be at their best quickly.
“If people are scared by the price, it‘s much cheaper than a visit to the ER and we have an awesome environment here where it doesn‘t feel like a doctor‘s office,” said Waggoner, who worked in an ER for 10 years before joining OnusIV