Tomorrow is St.Patrick’s day.  A global celebration of Irish culture where we pay homage to one of Ireland’s Patron saints by wearing green and drinking green beer.  They say that on Saint Patrick’s day everyone is  a wee bit Irish. (Strangely though not everyone is Mexican on Cinqo de Mayo).  As I mentioned it traditionally is a time to raise a glass with friends and toast the rich Irish culture.  Unfortunately, sometimes we raise too many glasses.  Binge drinking is defined as “drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk” Many people who do this don’t see it as a problem.  They rationalize by saying that it happens only occasionally- on weekends or maybe special occasions.  So what’s  the harm?

Binge drinking is associated with many health problems such as Unintentional injuries (car crashes, falls, burns, drowning); Intentional injuries (sexual assault, domestic violence);High blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases; Liver disease;  Brain damage; Impotence and poor diabetes control.   It can also have a number of legal ramifications.  Binge drinking can affect our judgment and lead to reckless and violent behaviours.  Drunk driving, physical or sexual assault can lead to arrests and incarceration.  It can also affect relationships with family and friends. To reduce the risk of binge drinking, we can limit the total amount of alcohol that you drink on any one occasion. Instead of showing up at the party with a case of beer, bring a few.  Or set a certain amount you will spend at the bar and don’t exceed it.  Drink more slowly, alternate drinks with water and drink with food.  Avoid risky places and activities; make sure you are with people that you know and that you know how to get home safely.

If you wake on March 18th with a headache, upset stomach and generally feeling terrible, you probably didn’t head my advice,  There are many cures for hangover-most of them myths. Hydration is the most important step to feeling better.  Fluids with sugar may help shakiness.  Bouillon soup is easy to digest and provides fluid and salt.  Medications such as acetaminophen can alleviate headaches and antacids may help your stomach.  Coffee may make you feel more alert but caffeine is a diuretic which can rob fluids from you.   It is also very important to recognize that judgment and motor function may be impaired so be cautious about driving.  “Sláinte Mhath!” as the Irish would say. (It means “good health.”). Take care of yourselves and each other.