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. Drinking isn't a contest. Pace yourself. Limit yourself to just one drink each hour.
  • Choose carefully. Beverages with fewer congeners — such as vodka and gin — are slightly less likely to cause hangovers than are beverages with more congeners — such as brandy and whiskey.
  • Sip water between drinks. Drinking one 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, others), to prevent hangover symptoms. But be sure to ask your doctor if this is safe for you to do and what dosage is best for you. These medications may interact with other medications, and in the case of acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may cause liver damage if too much alcohol is consumed.

Dec. 14, 2011

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