Alcohol allergies: Symptoms, treatments, and alcohol intolerance

It is a metabolic disorder with unpleasant side effects, caused by the body’s inherited disability to properly break down and dispose of alcohol in the bloodstream. But alcohol can contribute to a worsening in allergy symptoms. Some people are even allergic to alcohol signs of alcohol allergies itself and can experience symptoms ranging from stomach cramps to hives. If you’re concerned about how drinking alcohol makes your body feel, you should keep track of your symptoms and talk to your doctor. Often, a true alcohol allergy is termed alcohol intolerance.

If you have an alcohol allergy, your immune system over-reacts to alcohol. If you have alcohol intolerance, your digestive system doesn’t process alcohol properly. You might also react to certain alcoholic beverages if you have a histamine or sulfites intolerance. In very rare cases, reactions to alcohol may be a sign of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The risk factors for alcohol intolerance include being of Asian descent, having asthma or allergic rhinitis, and having Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Alcoholism Resources

One of the ways your body processes alcohol is by using the ALDH2 enzyme, called Aldehyde dehydrogenase. Allergic reactions differ between people, but it’s possible for the throat to swell, killing the person by not allowing them to breathe. ☝️TIP☝️ Discover your genetic predisposition to alcohol intolerance (and lactose/gluten intolerance) with the Atlas DNA Test. Judy Grisel/Ted EdAlcohol intolerance starts in the liver. Then, the ALDH2 enzyme neutralises it so it can be removed from your body.

  • Even a small amount of alcohol can cause a serious reaction.
  • Certain diseases can affect how well alcohol dehydrogenase functions.
  • It’s best to find a doctor who specializes in alcohol-related conditions to get an accurate diagnosis.
  • The amounts of histamine vary between wines, but generally, there is more histamine in red than white wine.

Usually, an alcohol intolerance is a reaction to one of the ingredients in alcohol and not necessarily the ethanol itself. While there is no way to treat this condition, your healthcare provider can talk with you about ways to reduce the negative effects of alcohol intolerance. No, alcohol intolerance is not the same as being intoxicated or drunk.

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Avoiding alcohol is the only sure way to prevent an alcohol-related reaction. If your body can’t do this well enough, you will have a reaction.

What’s more, research shows that some people have a gene variant that prevents the body from producing aldehyde dehydrogenase, an enzyme that helps break down alcohol. So if your heart races and your body temperature skyrockets after drinking, your liver may not be able to manage the concentration of alcohol in your body effectively. People of Asian descent are prone to having alcohol intolerance because of an inherited genetic trait. The primary difference between an alcohol allergy and an alcohol intolerance is the reaction each produces. Alcohol allergies are caused by the immune system and intolerance is a reaction from the digestive system.

Difference Between an Intolerance and an Allergy

These might be signs of alcohol intolerance, an inherited disorder. While there is no cure for this condition, avoiding alcohol helps you stay symptom-free. Alcohol intolerance is caused by a genetic condition in which the body can’t break down alcohol efficiently.

  • If you or a loved one are dealing with allergy symptoms, see your Baptist Health physician for consultation and treatment.
  • Alcohol intolerance is often confused with other health conditions that produce similar side effects like having an alcohol allergy.
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  • We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals.

Stress can sometimes worsen allergic reactions or sensitivities. Just as treatment for an alcohol allergy requires total abstinence, recovery from an alcohol use disorder calls for the same. Talk with a treatment provider today to begin your road to recovery. While alcohol allergies are rare, the consequences of this condition can be serious. For diagnosis and prevention of either condition, schedule an appointment with a Baptist Health provider. Although alcohol allergies are uncommon, they represent a serious threat to your health.

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