2006_12_health_hungover.gifAlong with the good cheer and good food that come with the holiday season, comes the annual office holiday party and its obligatory phony smiles and eventual hang-over. This year, Gothamist Health woke up with such a headache after the company shindig that we sat up in bed, cursing modern medicine for having yet to devise a hang-over remedy that actually works. And considering that the morning-after woes may be responsible for almost $4 billion in lost earnings every year, one would think that scientists would be busy trying to come up with one.

Hangovers are probably due to a number of factors, including the toxic byproducts of alcohol metabolism, dehydration (because we all know that once you break the seal, its all over), and vitamin depletion. The most common symptoms include headache, a dry mouth, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. In sum, you just feel like crap, which is no real surprise given that you just spent the night imbibing a poison and dancing your ass off with your tie around your head (yup, you were that guy).

Some alcohols definitely cause worse hangovers than others thanks to impurities known as congeners. In fact, ethanol itself may not be responsible for a hangover at all. Vodka and gin (clear liquors) contain less congeners than colored spirits like whiskey and rum, leading to fewer and less severe hangovers. This variation in the level of impurities is due to different filtering techniques, with the congeners actually adding additional flavors, smells, and colors. Older alcohols may also get you sicker faster as they're already filling up with toxic byproducts thanks to their reaction with oxygen.

We've always thought a good cup of black coffee in the morning would work to clear your head and get you back in the swing of things. But a mug of the stuff may worsen things by further dehydrating your already parched self. Some friends have advised nursing a hangover with a beer or Bloody Mary or a cup of New England Clam Chowder! Our own tried and true hangover helper has been drinking a flat cola (set out the night before) and wolfing down a greasy breakfast in the morning. Despite a review in the British Medical Journal last year that suggests that there are no cures for hangovers other than to practice abstinence or moderation, we're relying on you, our readers, to send us some tips on how to stave off the morning-after pains. As for the morning-after regrets, you're on your own.