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Is Alka Seltzer good for hangovers? It's a surprisingly common question and one that doesn't exactly have a straightforward answer.
Alka Seltzer comes as effervescent tablets that you drop into water. It's marketed as an antacid and pain reliever combo.
Many people use it for hangovers as well.
But is Alka Seltzer actually good for hangovers or is it another hangover cure myth?
In this article, we're going to take a closer look at what Alka Seltzer is made of and whether it has any benefits for a hangover.
What is Alka Seltzer?
Alka Seltzer is an over-the-counter drug made of three key ingredients:
- Anhydrous citric acid (Antacid)
- Sodium bicarbonate (Antacid)
- Aspirin (anti-inflammatory pain killer)
As you can see, two of the ingredients are antacids and the other is Aspirin.
That's why it's sold as both medication for indigestion and as an analgesic.
Unusually, People with indigestion are advised to avoid medication that includes Aspirin in it. In fact, any drug that belongs to the same class of medicine as Aspirin should be avoided.
The name of the class is "non-steroidal anti-inflammatories" and includes medication such as Ibuprofen.
The reason why it's not recommended in people suffering from indigestion is because there's a risk of serious bleeding from stomach ulcers. The FDA has also issued a warning about this.(1)
So, with the basics out the way, let's take a closer look at the symptoms of a hangover to see if Alka Seltzer can help.
Symptoms of a hangover
Before we get into whether Alka Seltzer is good for hangovers or not, we first need to go over the causes and symptoms of a hangover.
The science of hangovers is complicated and contrary to popular belief, dehydration is not the only cause.
In fact, inflammation, poor sleep quality and congeners are just some of the additional factors that play a part.
Ultimately, hangovers are caused by drinking too much alcohol and results in the following symptoms of a hangover.
- Headache/body aches
- nausea and vomiting
- Inability to concentrate
Next up, we move onto the all-important question: Is Alka Seltzer good for hangovers?
Is Alka Seltzer good for hangovers?
Aspirin belongs to a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). They inhibit the formation of prostaglandins, which are involved in the inflammatory pathways.
Therefore, the aspirin in Alka Seltzer may help ease some of the headache and body aches associated with a hangover.
With that said, medicines like aspirin can irritate the stomach lining. Especially if your stomach is already in a fragile state from drinking.
So if you are suffering from a bit of hangover heartburn in the morning, it may exacerbate this.
To make matters confusing, we mentioned earlier that Alka seltzer also contains a mild anti acid. You may be thinking whether this will counteract heartburn. But its hard to say and everyone will respond differently.
An important thing to mention is that Alka Seltzer is not going to "cure" hangover symptoms. At the very most, you'll get some temporary relief from headaches and muscleaches.
Alka Seltzer for hangover nausea
Lots of people take antacids like Alka Seltzer to help with hangover nausea. That would suggest that indigestion is the main cause of feeling sick when hungover.
Although indigestion may very well be a contributing factor, it's unlikely to be the only cause.
Alcohol is a toxin that inflames and irritates the stomach lining. In addition, it slows down the motility of your gut which means food sits in your stomach for longer.(2)
A combination of all these factors is likely responsible for hangover related nausea. Furthermore, nausea is a common side-effect of Aspirin (which is one of the ingredients in Alka Seltzer).
That's why Alka Seltzer probably won't help much and has the potential to make hangover nausea worse.
You can read more about this topic in our article about hangover nausea.
Alka Seltzer for hangover headache
Alka Seltzer contains 325mg of Aspirin which is an analgesic that can be used for headache.
The fact that Alka Seltzer is mixed in with water will also help rehydrate you.
What about Alka Seltzer XS for hangovers?
Alka Seltzer XS contains acetominophen (paracetamol) and caffeine in addition to the standard ingredients.
So with the addition of acetominophen, it could have a better overall analgesic effect.
With that said, the dose of acetaminophen is Alka Seltzer XS is only 133mg which is almost a 10th of a standard dose (1000mg for adults over 50kg).
Are there any negatives?
All drugs come with side effects. You should read the product labels to familarise yourself with them before taking them. In addittion, you should always speak to your pharmacist before trying new over the counter medicines.
If you have any medical condition or are taking any medical conditions, you should always speak to your doctor or pharmacist first as there could be interactions.
Anything else to consider?
Hangovers are a sign from your body that you've been too much alcohol. Trying to remedy some of your symptoms with Alka Seltzer may help, but a better approach is to prevent getting a hangover in the first place.
Aside from drinking less alcohol, here are some other tips that can help:
- Keep well hydrated by drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic drink
- Avoid drinking on an empty stomach
- Avoid caffeinated mixers in the evening
Alka Seltzer for hangovers - Final verdict
That brings us to the end of our look into Alka Seltzer for hangovers.
Alka Seltzer is a drug that works both as a an antacid and analgesic.
In summary, taking Alka Seltzer will:
– Help with aches and pains
– Will not prevent or “cure” a hangover
– Does not help other symptoms of a hangover
It contains aspirin which comes with side effects you should be aware of. Particularly if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking regular medicines.