Holidays are the perfect opportunity to relax and have fun, but drinking to excess in the sun can result in more than just a hangover. It’s important to stay hydrated in the heat, especially if you are drinking alcohol, as it dehydrates you even further. Your body can only process one unit of alcohol an hour, and less in some people.
Drink a lot in a short space of time and the amount of alcohol in the blood can stop the body from working properly.
If you do drink too much, you could easily get into trouble – problems include breathing problems, seizures and brain damage. The more drunk you are, the more likely you are to do something risky.
The next day you’re likely to experience hangover symptoms, which vary from person to person, but usually involve a headache, nausea, tiredness and dehydration. Dehydration is one of the main causes of your hangover symptoms. A hangover can leave you struggling to concentrate, feeling irritable and sensitive to light – miserable enough at the best of times, but the last thing you want is to be sitting in a darkened room rather than out in the sun with friends and family.
To ensure you have a holiday to remember, if you drink, make every other drink a soft one and stick within the recommended low risk guidelines of 14 units of alcohol a week for both men and women spread over three days or more, and to have several drink-free days each week.
Tolerance for alcohol
By drinking to excess during your holiday you may be building a tolerance for alcohol. If your tolerance rises, and you drink more and more to get the same effect you once got from one glass of wine, then you could be heading into dangerous ground. Being ‘tolerant’ to the short term effects of alcohol doesn’t offer any protection to the harm excess alcohol does your body in the medium to long term. The simple fact is that alcohol is a toxin and your body can only process so much of it before it starts to struggle. In fact, if you’re able to drink more, your body will have to process more toxin, so your risks may well be higher.
Luckily, if you think your tolerance is rising, fighting back is simple: just give your body a break from alcohol with some alcohol-free days each week.
Once you’ve reset your tolerance you won’t need as much alcohol to feel the effects. This makes it far easier to drink more sensibly. If you’ve fallen into a pattern of heavier drinking, having a break also gives you the opportunity to build new, more positive drinking patterns based around the low risk guidelines.
Increased risk of cancers
Alcohol dehydrates your body generally, including the skin – your body’s largest organ. This happens every time you drink. Drinking too much is also thought to deprive the skin of vital vitamins and nutrients.
It’s important to remember that regularly drinking over these guidelines can contribute to serious health harms. Over the long term, drinking alcohol increases your risk of illnesses such as mouth, throat and breast cancer.
Drinking more than the low risk guidelines of 14 units per week could also put you at risk of Holiday Heart Syndrome . This is a condition, caused by heavy drinking, in which people experience severe chest pains. Your blood pressure changes, increasing your risk of a heart attack or sudden death.
How to ensure that alcohol doesn’t ruin a holiday:
· Remember tolerance to alcohol may change in the heat and bars abroad often serve larger measures than in the UK. It is worth alternating your drinks with water or soft drinks.
· Be aware of counterfeit alcohol – think the four Ps to spot it. Place – buy from reputable supermarkets; Price – if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is; Packaging – is the spelling on that branded spirit bottle wrong, or the ink smudged on the label?; Product – fake spirits may have sediment in them. Fake alcohol can blind – it can also kill
· Protect your drink – to avoid the risk of your drink being spiked, keep an eye on it at all times and don’t accept drinks from strangers unless you see them being poured at the bar.
· Stay close to your friends – if you are drinking with friends look out for each other. If they seem drunk or act out of the ordinary, make sure you get them home safely. Never let a friend go home alone or with someone they don’t know.
· Drink respectfully – this includes showing respect and consideration to other holidaymakers and local people while on holiday and bear in mind that in some destinations it pays to be aware of specific cultural and local sensitivities.”
Use Drinkaware’s free mobile app, available on iPhone and Android, to track the alcohol you’re drinking and stick to the lower risk guidelines on a night out.”