Alcohol Allergies: Symptoms, Signs, and Treatment for Reactions

An allergic reaction causes the body to view alcohol as a threat and produce antibodies to protect itself. When we consume alcohol, our liver converts the ethanol present in it into acetaldehyde, a substance that can cause cell damage. However, our bodies also produce another enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2), which helps convert acetaldehyde to acetic acid (vinegar), which is nontoxic. According to the Cleveland Clinic, alcohol intolerance is caused by a genetic metabolic disorder that prevents the body from producing the enzymes necessary to process alcohol.

allergic reaction to alcohol

Alcohol allergies can cause your throat to feel tight, as if it's closing up a bit. You can experience wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing fits because of this, says Dr. Glatter. What's more, "people with sinus problems may also develop more pronounced upper respiratory symptoms, including nasal congestion, stuffiness, and facial pressure" when they drink, he adds. You'll have those same symptoms and a more intense reaction, wheezing, difficulty swallowing, low blood pressure, and heart palpitations, he says. Although alcohol intolerance usually isn’t a serious issue as long as you don’t drink alcohol, you might want to discuss it with your doctor at your next appointment.

What are the symptoms of alcohol intolerance?

It is unclear if distilled alcohol made from corn is safe for people with corn allergies. To date, there is little strong evidence of this, though distillation is likely to leave behind only negligible amounts of the proteins from the corn, if any. Inpatient rehabilitation programs provide intensive therapy and support for people struggling with alcohol addiction or substance abuse. While the liver breaks down alcohol, it also affects essential neurotransmitters in the brain. This makes it more difficult for your body to fight off infections, including the common cold and flu, as well as pneumonia and tuberculosis. Alcohol can negatively affect the muscular and skeletal systems by thinning the bones over time.

  • Detoxification, or detox for short, is removing alcohol from your system while managing withdrawal symptoms.
  • However, some people have genetic variations that affect the activity of these enzymes.
  • Histamine intolerance may cause a reaction when you drink beer.

More severe symptoms include swelling of the face, mouth, or tongue; nausea and vomiting; diarrhea; or lightheadedness. Brian Obinna Obodeze is a professional health-niche content developer for with six years of experience as a research writer. He is an expert in medical content development, especially in the field of addictions, general health, homeopathic medicine, and pharmaceuticals. Brian has a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the University of Benin and has worked as a Lab Scientist and as a public healthcare officer. His hobbies include physical fitness, reading, and social entrepreneurship.

Think You May Be Intolerant of (or Allergic to) Alcohol? Here’s What an Immunologist Wants You To Know

As with histamines, this issue comes down to a depletion of enzymes — in this case, enzymes that are required to metabolize alcohol in the liver. Alcohol intolerance occurs when your body doesn’t have the proper enzymes to break down (metabolize) the toxins in alcohol. This is caused by inherited (genetic) traits most often found in Asians.

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In older adults, especially, too much alcohol can lead to balance problems and falls, which can result in hip or arm fractures and other injuries. Older people have thinner bones than younger people, so their bones break more easily. Studies show that the rate of various types of fractures in older adults increases with heavy alcohol use. Some medication requires avoidance of alcohol for the time that you are taking that medicine.

What are signs of alcohol misuse or alcohol use disorder?

It is estimated that as many as 50 million Americans may suffer from some type of allergy. In rare cases, allergies can lead to anaphylactic shock and death. If you or a loved one are dealing with allergy symptoms, see your Baptist Health physician for consultation and treatment. Excessive alcohol use also leads to mental health conditions. A drinking-related condition is also known as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. Directly after drinking alcohol, your heart rate and blood pressure rise.

If in doubt, ask your allergy specialist for advice about the types of alcoholic beverages you can or cannot drink. People with mold or yeast allergies may have an allergic reaction to the brewer’s yeast used to make fermented beverages like beer, wine, and hard cider. While most people can tolerate sulfites in foods, there are some who are especially sensitive to them and may experience an asthma attack. In rare instances, exposure to sulfites has been known to cause a potentially life-threatening, whole-body allergy known as anaphylaxis. If you experience headache, flushing, itching, or congestion after drinking red wine, it may be because you have histamine intolerance. A reaction to high-histamine foods could be a sign of histamine intolerance.

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