By Steven Odeke
The boozing culture in Uganda takes centrestage during festive seasons. To most people, the new year without alcohol is not celebration at all.
Those who live by this mantra consume wines, spirits, local brews and beers to express their happiness and mark their festive times.
Therefore, most times, you would find them drinking excessively, ignoring all warnings that excessive drinking may damage one’s health.
The allure to drink gets excessively strong during such festive seasons amongst consumers, they take it as one avenue of bolstering self-confidence, increasing social acceptance and maybe quenching their liquor thirst.
However, too much consumption of alcohol is known to punish all those who indulge in it.
Most mornings after taking excessive alcohol are followed with pounding headaches and queasiness known as the hangover.
The experience can cause discomfort and it may last as long as 24 hours if not checked.
The challenge to alcohol consumers has always been how to manage hangovers. Of course, so many remedies have been fronted for a long time and not all seem to be a healthy way to cure the hangovers.
Ancient Romans used raw owl’s eggs to cure hangover, while in the 1930s, one western hotel used to offer a mixture of soda and milk. Others like famous writer Ernest Hemmingway relied on tomato juice and another round of beer to beat hangover.
That was then. In Uganda, people have been advised to try mulokony (cow hooves) soup, and sex in the morning all for the sake of beating a hangover.
They have also been advised to eat a luwombo, (a dish wrapped in banana leaves). How best can one cure hangover in a healthy way?
“There is no need to panic in curing hangovers,” says Dr. David Basangwa, the executive director and senior consultant psychiatrist at Butabika Hospital.
“A hangover can be selflimiting and one can get over it if one avoids drinking alcohol. All one needs to take is plenty of water, fruit juice with sugar and eat plenty of fruits. This is because when one drinks heavily, the normal body state changes and experiences increased loss of body water volume through frequent passing of urine.
“The body eventually gets dehydrated and loses essential minerals, which lead to weakness, dizziness and multiple body pains.” Dr. Basangwa explains.
Hangover effects are known to weaken the body and people eventually fail to report to work or be productive.
According to Healthline.com, over 2,000 people in the US missed work due to hangovers and hangoverrelated poor job performance.
This cost the country a fortune of $148b annually, or about $2,000 per working adult in 2005.
Uganda is ranked as one of the leading alcohol consumers in the world and by March this year, Ugandans had consumed more alcohol than their counterparts in any African country, according to a survey done by US broadcaster CNN.
Uganda was ranked eighth globally ahead of Germany and Australia. Those statistics cement Ugandans as excessive consumers after the World Health Organisation had ranked us as the leading consumer of alcohol in the world.
With such numbers reflecting the love Ugandans have for liquor, one would expect excess consumption of booze during these festive periods.
Dr. Basangwa says the experiences of discomfort one gets after several hours of heavy alcohol intake vary from one person to another and is worse in novice drinkers.
“It is heavy drinking, especially beverages with high alcoholic content that will give consumers severe hangovers.
“Alcohol also irritates the stomach wall (lining), which results in stomach aches and sometimes vomiting. When one vomits, it is worse because they lose more water. There is also the reduction of blood sugar content in the body, especially the brain that heavily depends on sugar. This makes the person weak and irritable. And the other mistake people make is to take alcohol on empty stomachs,” he said.
“People should also take a glass of milk when they get hangovers because it is very beneficial. Small meals with carbohydrates and eggs are also very important when having a hangover. However, Dr. Basangwa adds that the best way to prevent one from experiencing terrible effects of alcohol is to avoid drinking.
“If one is to drink alcohol, they should do it in moderation. Alternatively, drink after a good meal and have a fruit with your drink.