For many people, enjoying a few alcoholic beverages can come at a cost — including nausea, headaches and more symptoms of morning-after hangovers.
On TikTok and other social media platforms, claims are making the rounds that actions such as chugging down a sports drink, using an electrolyte powdered mix or scheduling an appointment to receive an IV with electrolytes has helped people handle hangovers.
Does electrolyte supplementation really expedite the recovery of a hangover? Fox News Digital spoke with some experts to find out.
Electrolytes are positive or negative electrically charged substances that help the body maintain the optimal fluid balance inside and outside the cells, and also help to regulate chemical reactions, according to Cleveland Clinic’s website.
Electrolytes can come from foods and beverages like sports drinks, coconut water and other types of juices.
A person can lose electrolytes after a workout through sweat or when dealing with illness and vomiting, including from hangovers, health experts told Fox News Digital.
“Drinking alcohol can cause one to be dehydrated, because it has a tendency to inhibit the hormone vasopressin, which helps the kidneys reabsorb water,” Dr. Fred Davis, associate chair of emergency medicine at Northwell Health – Long Island Jewish Medical Center on Long Island, New York, told Fox News Digital.
“This leads to a loss of more water when you urinate that the body would have reabsorbed through the kidneys,” he continued.
“Along with this water loss in the urine goes a number of electrolytes, specifically sodium and potassium.”
Sodium and potassium are the key electrolytes involved in the regulation of water in and out of cells, Davis said — and when they are low, symptoms like headaches, muscle aches and fatigue can result.
The supplementation of electrolytes — particularly sodium and potassium — can be helpful in warding off many of the effects of hangovers, multiple experts told Fox News Digital.
“Alcohol is a diuretic, increasing urination, which can cause disruptions in fluid and electrolyte balance,” Laura Feldman, a registered dietitian nutritionist and an assistant professor of nutrition at Long Island University in Brookville, New York, told Fox News Digital.
“Restoring this balance with electrolyte replacements is logical.”
More research is needed to determine whether taking electrolytes helps shorten a hangover’s duration, Feldman said.
“However, sports drinks and other electrolyte replacement drinks can also provide fluid and carbs, which can help address hangover symptoms,” she noted.
“For people who are experiencing nausea and vomiting, carbohydrate- and electrolyte-filled fluids may be the only thing they can tolerate.”
When it comes to receiving IV drips that contain electrolytes, Feldman said they can be a quick way to hydrate after a hangover, but cautioned that they tend to be expensive and carry a potential risk of infections.
Some recent college graduates shared with Fox News Digital their “go-to hangover cures.”
Of the five who commented, all included a sports drink or electrolyte powdered drink mix, along with an over-the-counter pain reliever, to help with their morning recovery (along with a greasy breakfast sandwich).
One nutrition expert pointed out that the effectiveness of electrolytes for treating hangovers could be partly a psychological effect.
“It might be more of a ‘placebo effect’ with the electrolyte products,” Dr. Deborah Salvatore, director of graduate nutrition programs at Long Island University in Brookville, New York, told Fox News Digital.
It may not be that electrolytes specifically treat the hangover but that they boost fluid intake to alleviate symptoms of dehydration, she said.
Beyond boosting electrolytes — and the obvious approach of drinking less alcohol — there are other ways to minimize the symptoms of a hangover, said expertd.
“If you choose to drink alcohol, the best way to avoid a hangover is to make sure you are well-hydrated beforehand,” Davis told Fox News Digital.
He also suggested drinking a glass of water for every alcoholic drink — and before going to sleep — to help reduce the dehydration effects.
In Feldman’s view, the best cure for a hangover is patience.
“The symptoms will typically resolve within 24 hours,” she said.
“However, if having an electrolyte replacement drink helps someone feel better — even anecdotally — there is minimal risk, so I say go for it.”