Am I Allergic to Alcohol?

Authored by Hugh Soames

Edited by Hugh Soames

Reviewed by Michael Por

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How to Tell if You Are Allergic to Alcohol

 

There is no question that alcohol has an effect on the mind and body. However, certain people may be allergic to alcohol and have reactions that in rare cases may need hospitalization. Recognizing that you are allergic to alcohol is not so simple because there are other factors involved.

 

An adverse reaction is normally a sign of being allergic to a particular substance. However, there are people who have an intolerance or addiction to alcohol that is not considered allergic. This is because they lack one of the necessary enzymes, such as aldehyde dehydrogenase or alcohol dehydrogenase that processes the alcohol in the body11.B. Wüthrich, Allergic and intolerance reactions to wine – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved September 19, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6883207/.

 

Alcohol Allergy Symptoms

 

  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Fast Heartbeat
  • Feeling Hot, as if you have a fever
  • Flushed Face, which is often red
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Hives
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Rash
  • Stomach Pain
  • Stuffy Nose

 

Although some of the symptoms of being allergic to alcohol may sound serious, they are usually mild in nature. If you feel them coming on, then you should stop drinking the alcohol right away. This will allow the substance to weaken and eventually fade from your system.

 

Being allergic to alcohol generally does not require hospitalization or treatment unless you consume too much. An allergic reaction, while rare, is generally more serious and in some cases may require emergency treatment.

 

Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction to Alcohol

 

Keep in mind that you are more likely to have an allergic reaction is you suffer from asthma, hay fever, have food allergies, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or are of Asian descent22.T. Skaaby, Association of alcohol consumption with allergic disease and asthma: a multicenter Mendelian Randomization analysis – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved September 19, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7613132/. Taking certain medications may also make you more vulnerable to an allergic reaction which will have one or more of the following symptoms.

 

What does an Allergic Reaction to Alcohol feel Like?

 

  • Stomach Cramps
  • Collapse
  • Rashes

 

Anaphylaxis is the most severe of allergic reactions as it can cause nausea, vomiting, and a weak, but rapid pulse. However, the most serious part of this type of reaction is difficulty in breathing and swelling around the mouth and throat areas. If this occurs, you will need to call 911 and get emergency treatment immediately.

Related Allergic Reactions

 

Keep in mind that you may be reacting not to the alcohol, but one of the other substances found in alcoholic drinks. You may have an allergic reaction to the following:

 

  • Barley
  • Eggs
  • Gluten
  • Grapes
  • Histamines
  • Hops
  • Rye
  • Seafoods
  • Sodium Metabisulfite and Sulfites
  • Wheat or Yeast

 

Of the many alcoholic drinks that contain allergens, red wine is the most likely of all to cause a reaction. Beer and whiskey also contain allergens such as barley, hops, wheat, and yeast. If you have a reaction to any of these substances, then you should avoid alcohol beverages that contain them.

 

If you should suffer a reaction and are not sure of the cause and think it could be because you are allergic to alcohol, call your doctor. Explain the symptoms you experienced and check yourself in for a physical examination. Your doctor may be able to perform a skin test that determines if you suffer from an allergic reaction.

 

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Next: AA vs NA

  • 1
    1.B. Wüthrich, Allergic and intolerance reactions to wine – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved September 19, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6883207/
  • 2
    2.T. Skaaby, Association of alcohol consumption with allergic disease and asthma: a multicenter Mendelian Randomization analysis – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved September 19, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7613132/
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