Truth behind the rumors: Pedialyte as a hangover cure

Gina Spoden

(Video by: Kay Bennett)

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The word around campus is that students are drinking Pedialyte to help cure hangovers.

Pedialyte is an electrolyte drink designed to replenish the nutrients and vitamins lost during vomiting and diarrhea. It was originally marketed mostly towards infants and children, but the company recently launched an advertising campaign promoting the product to adults.

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“The social momentum and data-driven insights combined led us to the strategy of actively marketing to adults, and the ‘See the Lyte’ campaign was born,” said Kristyn Wilson, Senior Manager of Public Affairs at Abbott.

The See the Lyte campaign features a messy-haired, shirtless man who clearly has not had a good night. Underneath the image, a tagline reads: “You’re an adult. You’ve got things to do. You don’t have time for a rough morning.”

According to NBC News Reporter Katie Little, a Nielsen study reported that “a third of (Pedialyte) sales now come from grown-ups while adult use of the drink has increased by 57 percent since 2012.” Among these adults are college students, turning to Pedialyte to help them recover after a night of partying.

“I’ve been known to use it on occasion … for curing a hangover,” said an anonymous CSU alumnus.

Another CSU student said she had never heard of Pedialyte or the See the Lyte campaign, but wouldn’t be against trying it.

“I honestly think (it’s) kind of crazy,” she said, adding that she believes it’s just a social fad and doesn’t know why adults would drink something made for children.

Celebrities have been seen endorsing the product, including Miley Cyrus and Pharrell Williams, who claims to drink it “almost every day.” The company has even come out with powder packs and freezer pops in a variety of favors to appeal to adults.

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However, despite this growing belief that the products can cure a hangover, Dr. Kathy Waller from CSU Health Services explains that the process is more complex than simply drinking Pedialyte.

“Most of what causes a hangover is the alcohol biproducts as they’re metabolized through the liver and that sort of thing takes time. … Pedialyte isn’t going to make it metabolize any faster,” Waller said.   

But even though Pedialyte won’t cure a hangover, it can prevent and aid other symptoms that occur from dehydration.

The idea behind Pedialyte is that it provides the “optimal balance of sugar and sodium to prevent dehydration, which makes it a great option for when you might enjoy an occasional beverage,” Wilson said.

Pedialyte is also being picked up by athletes who need to stay hydrated during events and women who are pregnant and suffering from morning sicknesses. It can be used any time when rehydration is necessary.

There is no harm from drinking Pedialyte regularly, but Andrea Coryell, assistant director at the CSU Health Network, argues that if students are drinking that much, they should be evaluating why.

“We’re wanting to know why they’re drinking to those levels that they even have to be dealing with that hangover the next day,” Coryell said. She believes that people come to college with a misperception that everyone is partying, but the truth is that the majority of CSU students are acting responsibly. She warned that although Pedialyte is not harmful, binge drinking can have serious effects.

Collegian Reporter Gina Johnson Spoden can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @gina_spoden5.