In early morning hours of July 5 last year, after a day of drinking and greasy food, Patricia Ochoa was sufficiently hungover. She had all of the classic symptoms: dry mouth, headache, exhaustion, and an upset stomach. Then, her brother appeared at her bedroom door like the hangover fairy with a bottle of grape Pedialyte. She tore off the “kid-approved taste” sticker on the cap and started gulping it down.
Yes, Ochoa was using an over-the-counter remedy intended for dehydrated children (think: bad bouts of diarrhea) as a hangover cure. The crazy thing? It worked. After drinking half the bottle, her headache and nausea disappeared.
Ochoa isn’t alone in using Pedialyte as her hangover hack. Adults make up a third of Pedialyte’s market — and those numbers continue to grow. The company has also added new flavored powder packs that you mix with water, making for a more secretive way of getting your fix.
Now, the company is explicitly marketing to adult customers with its “See the Lyte” campaign. While the marketing lingo still tiptoes around the term “hangovers," Lindsy Delco, public affairs spokesperson for Abbott, Pedialyte’s parent company, says the most common uses among adults are stomach flu, occasional alcohol use, heat exhaustion, and travel.
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Pedialyte works well as advertised. It helps rehydrate your body. And after a night of boozing, we could all use a little help in that department. “Alcohol is a diuretic, which means its causes you to produce more urine,” says Danielle Hamo, a registered dietician and licensed nutritionist. “That’s why you have to go to the bathroom so much when you drink, and it also means you’re at risk for getting dehydrated.”
A bottle of Pedialyte has twice the sodium and five times as much potassium as the same size bottle of Gatorade — with fewer than half the calories (around 100, compared to 240 in the sports drink). That’s a great combo to rehydrate your body. “Sodium talks to your kidneys and tells them to retain more water in the body,” says Justin Robinson, a registered sports dietitian and Greatist expert. And potassium is one of the key nutrients that’s lost with all of those trips to the bathroom, so its important to replenish.
Sadly, Pedialyte isn't the miracle elixir that will cure all of your hangover woes. Drinking alcohol — especially in excess — can do a number on your digestive tract and sleep cycle, and Pedialyte won’t help with either of those symptoms, Hamo says.
A better idea: Take a proactive approach while drinking rather than gulping down Pedialyte the day after, Robinson says. He suggests drinking a glass of water after every alcoholic drink and making sure you're drinking on a full stomach. “If food is present in your stomach when you’re drinking, it will take longer for the alcohol to enter the bloodstream,” Robinson explains. “But that also means grabbing a late-night snack to soak up all the alcohol you drank doesn't do much to help."
Next: Kick Hangovers Before They Start