Despite various over-the-counter pills and tablets that claim to prevent hangovers, the only guaranteed way to prevent a hangover is to avoid alcohol. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation. The less alcohol you drink, the less likely you are to have a hangover.

It may help to:

  • Eat first. Alcohol is absorbed more quickly if your stomach is empty. It may help to eat something before drinking alcohol.
  • Take it slow. Pace yourself. Limit yourself to just one drink or less each hour.
  • Choose carefully. Beverages with fewer congeners — such as light-colored beers and wine — are slightly less likely to cause hangovers than are beverages with more congeners — such as brandy, whiskey, dark beers and red wine.
  • Sip water between drinks. Drinking a full glass of water after each alcoholic drink will help you stay hydrated. It'll also help you drink less alcohol.

Also know your limits. Decide ahead of time how many drinks you'll have — and stick to it. Don't feel pressured to drink.

Some people take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), to prevent hangover symptoms. But ask your doctor if this is safe for you and what dosage is best for you. These medications may interact with other medications, and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may cause liver damage if too much alcohol is consumed.

Dec. 20, 2014

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