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Hangover Help
'Tis the season for hangovers! Of course, the best way to avoid them is to avoid alcohol or to drink in moderation. But for those times when your best intentions seem to dissolve in your martini glass, the National Headache Foundation (NHF) has a few pointers to ease your hangover headache.

Eat greasy food before consuming alcohol. In general, you should avoid fatty foods. But in this situation, they can be helpful, as they help line the intestines, which causes alcohol absorption to take longer.

Avoid red wine, which contains naturally occurring chemicals called congeners (less common in white wine) that may cause headaches.

Drink water between cocktails. This will reduce overall alcohol consumption and help replenish fluids to prevent dehydration, an underlying cause of hangovers.

Eat some honey. Honey supplies fructose, a sugar that helps the body metabolize alcohol, is rich in vitamin B6 and can reduce hangover symptoms. Two tablespoons of honey on a cracker or piece of toast, before or after drinking, may prevent a hangover.

Drink a cup of coffee first thing the next morning. Caffeine may help decrease headache symptoms and pain duration, because it acts as a vasoconstrictor and eases the dilated blood vessels.

Take ibuprofen. While aspirin is okay, ibuprofen is typically less irritating to the stomach and can also ease the pain of a hangover headache.

Smoke-Free State
On Jan. 1, the Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act (Act No. 815) went into effect. The new legislation prohibits smoking in most public places and workplaces, including all restaurants with or without attached bars. Smoking will still be allowed in stand-alone bars and casinos.

The legislature also repealed Louisiana's partial preemption of local smoke-free air ordinances and replaced it with a specific non-preemption clause. This means local communities are now free to strengthen the new law with stricter local ordinances.

Additionally, lawmakers passed Act No. 838, which prohibits smoking in motor vehicles when children under the age of 13 are present (effective Aug. 15, 2006).

Stent Risk
Drug-coated mesh stent recipients face a significant blood-clot risk, according to a new report by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is investigating the safety of two popular drug-coated stents: Johnson & Johnson's Cypher Stent and Boston Scientifics' Taxus Express Stent.

This type of medical device, often implanted during angioplasty, has been placed in about 6 million people worldwide. Until more specific information about clot risks is available, many doctors are advising stent patients to continue taking anti-clotting drugs such as Plavix. If you think you may be at risk, consult your physician for treatment options.

Sleep Support
People with sleep disorders can get help and support at AWAKE (Alert, Well, And Keeping Energetic) meetings hosted by St. Tammany Parish Hospital (STPH) in 2007. The meetings will keep patients — and their family and friends — informed of new equipment, provide updates from sleep disorder organizations, and address questions and concerns with qualified personnel and guest speakers.

The quarterly meetings will be held in the Covington Room at STPH from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Jan. 17, April 18, July 18 and Oct. 17. For more information, call (985) 871-5987.

65 Years of Ochsner
On Saturday Jan. 6, Ochsner will celebrate its 65th anniversary with a three-hour fundraising cruise on the Steamboat Natchez.

The boat will depart from "The Fly" dock behind Audubon Zoo at 7 p.m. and will cruise the Mississippi River before returning to the same dock at 10 p.m.

The event features a live auction, music by The Last Straws, traditional New Orleans food and an open bar. Tickets are $100 per person, and proceeds will benefit Ochsner's Cardiovascular Department. Call 842-7113 for tickets or more information.

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