You’ve probably given your child some Pedialyte when they got sick with a stomach flu. This over-the-counter solution works wonders for your little one to help fight dehydration. If they don't drink enough fluids, they can get dehydrated. Ditto if they lose fluids quicker than they take them in.
But many adults turn to this just-for-kids remedy as an off-brand way to deal with hangovers. After all, drinking too much alcohol also causes dehydration—one of the many hangover symptoms you can experience the next day. But does Pedialyte for hangover relief work?
Let’s find out.
What is Pedialyte?
Widely available in grocery stores and pharmacies, Pedialyte is typically marketed to parents as a medical-grade electrolyte-packed solution for sick kids. Manufactured by Abbott Laboratories in a variety of formulations, the classic version of Pedialyte comes in a variety of tasty flavors (think grape and strawberry) and contains these ingredients:
- Dextrose (a form of sugar)
- Citric acid
- Natural & artificial flavor
- Potassium citrate
- Sodium citrate
- Acesulfame potassium
- Zinc gluconate
- Yellow 6
In particular, the water and electrolytes help fight dehydration. Electrolytes are essential minerals—including sodium, potassium, calcium, and chloride— found in your blood, urine, and sweat. They help balance your body’s fluids, regulate your blood’s pH levels, and promote healthy nerve function. Pedialyte works by quickly replenishing your child’s lost fluids and electrolytes.
What are the causes and signs of dehydration?
A variety of issues can cause a loss of fluid, including diarrhea, sweating, vomiting, urination, fever, not drinking enough liquids, overheating due to exercise, overexertion in hot weather, or (wait for it) consuming too much alcohol. Regardless of the cause, when you lose more body fluids than you take in, it leads to dehydration.
Dehydration can show up differently in children and adults. In infants and kids, signs of dehydration include crying with no tears, dry mouth/tongue, high fever, no wet diapers for at least three hours, sunken eyes, unusual sleepiness, and irritability.
In adults, signs of dehydration include the following:
- Extreme thirst
- Dry mouth
- Dry skin
- Sweating and urinating less than usual
- Dark-colored urine
Dehydration can range from mild to life-threatening. Treatment depends on the severity of dehydration and can range from drinking water to drinking electrolyte-infused solutions like Pedialyte to getting intravenous (IV) fluids with salt in the hospital.
Notice anything familiar about the above dehydration signs? These very unpleasant symptoms also accompany a hangover—which explains why some people turn to Pedialyte the morning after drinking too much.
Does Pedialyte for hangover relief really work?
A hangover can take an awful toll on both your physical and mental health. So, when a hangover rears its ugly head, you’ll try anything to make it go away. You might pray to the porcelain god, sleep in, call in sick, eat hangover-friendly food all day—and even down some Pedialyte. But does this kid-friendly drink cure a hangover?
To answer this, it helps to understand how your body processes alcohol. Within just a few minutes of drinking alcohol, it gets absorbed into your bloodstream until your body starts to process it. Alcohol negatively affects your brain, stomach lining, blood vessels, various organs (think kidney and heart), and several of the body’s systems. As your entire body works to process alcohol and eliminate it, this leads to an array of hangover symptoms, including:
- Dehydration. As a diuretic, alcohol causes your kidneys to produce more urine. The more you pee, the greater the risk of getting dehydrated and causing an electrolyte imbalance. This leads to thirst, dry mouth, nausea, and headache.
- Electrolyte imbalance. If you urinate too much, this can lead to a loss of electrolytes. While electrolyte levels normally fluctuate, losing too many of these essential minerals at once can cause an unhealthy imbalance.
- Digestive issues. Because alcohol can irritate the stomach, this can lead to inflammation and increased stomach acid, causing nausea or abdominal pain. When your body metabolizes alcohol, a byproduct known as acetaldehyde is released, which may result in nausea or vomiting.
- Disruption of sleep. While alcohol might make you fall asleep faster, it messes with your quality of sleep. How? It prevents deep sleep, which your body needs to feel refreshed in the morning.
- Decreased blood sugar. A drop in blood sugar can cause to feel tired or weak. This can be problematic for anyone—but especially for people with diabetes.
So, what’s the verdict on turning to Pedialyte for hangover relief? Well, Pedialyte can quell some hangover symptoms such as dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and low blood sugar. Why? Because it contains significantly more electrolytes than water. By getting rehydrated, you might start to feel better in some ways. However, Pedialyte won’t cure all of your hangover woes, such as a raging headache, brain fog, light sensitivity, queasy stomach, and anxiety .
The good news? You can jump in the driver’s seat and steer your hangover in the right direction to ease hangover symptoms as you recover. Rehydrate your body by drinking plenty of water, take ibuprofen for your throbbing headache, get some rest, eat the best hangover foods, and practice meditation or breathing exercises to handle hangover anxiety
Plus, time is on your side—you can usually say good-bye to your hangover after a 24-hour recovery period.
While you might reach for Pedialyte for hangover symptoms, know that it will only solve part of the problem. Pedialyte does work to help the body rehydrate after losing too many fluids and electrolytes and it can help stabilize your blood sugar levels. However, it doesn’t cure all of your hangover symptoms, such as headache, nausea, brain fog, light sensitivity, and dizziness.
Author’s Bio: Lisa Beach is an Orlando freelance writer whose work has been published in The New York Times, USA Today, Good Housekeeping, Parade, Eating Well, and dozens more. Check out her writer’s website at www.LisaBeachWrites.com.
- Tags: Lifestyle