Can you become allergic to alcohol?

Can You Become Allergic to Alcohol?

Many people enjoy drinking alcohol occasionally, but some people may experience unpleasant reactions after consuming it. These reactions may be caused by alcohol intolerance, alcohol allergy, or other factors. In this blog post, we will explain the differences between these conditions and how to manage them.

What is alcohol intolerance?

Alcohol intolerance is a condition where your body cannot break down alcohol properly. This is because you have a genetic variation that affects the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2), which is responsible for metabolizing alcohol in your liver. When you drink alcohol, it is converted into acetaldehyde, a toxic substance that causes various symptoms. If you have alcohol intolerance, you have less active ALDH2 and more acetaldehyde in your blood.

The symptoms of alcohol intolerance usually appear within minutes or hours of drinking alcohol and may include:

– Facial flushing
– Stuffy nose
– Headache
– Nausea
– Vomiting
– Diarrhea
– Rapid heartbeat
– Low blood pressure

Alcohol intolerance is more common in people of Asian descent, but it can affect anyone. There is no cure for alcohol intolerance, so the only way to prevent the symptoms is to avoid drinking alcohol or limit your intake.

What is alcohol allergy?

Alcohol allergy is a rare condition where your immune system overreacts to alcohol or its ingredients. This is because you have antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE) that recognize alcohol or its components as foreign substances and trigger an allergic reaction.

The symptoms of alcohol allergy can be mild or severe and may include:

– Itchy mouth, eyes, or nose
– Hives, eczema, or itchiness on your skin
– Swelling of your face, throat, or other body parts
– Nasal congestion, wheezing, or difficulty breathing
– Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
– Dizziness, light-headedness, or loss of consciousness

Alcohol allergy can be life-threatening if it causes anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that affects multiple organs and systems. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention and treatment with epinephrine.

Alcohol allergy can be caused by alcohol itself or by other ingredients in alcoholic beverages, such as:

– Wheat
– Barley
– Rye
– Hops
– Yeast
– Grapes
– Sulfites
– Histamine

If you have an alcohol allergy, you should avoid drinking alcohol entirely or find out which ingredient triggers your reaction and avoid it.

How to diagnose and treat alcohol intolerance and allergy?

If you suspect that you have alcohol intolerance or allergy, you should consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor may ask you about your medical history, family history, symptoms, and drinking habits. They may also perform some tests, such as:

– Skin prick test: A small amount of alcohol or its ingredient is applied to your skin and observed for any reaction.
– Blood test: A sample of your blood is analyzed for the presence of IgE antibodies to alcohol or its ingredient.
– Breath test: You breathe into a device that measures the amount of acetaldehyde in your breath after drinking alcohol.

The treatment for alcohol intolerance and allergy depends on the severity of your symptoms and the cause of your condition. Some possible treatments are:

– Antihistamines: These medications can help reduce the symptoms of mild allergic reactions by blocking histamine, a chemical that causes inflammation and itching.
– Corticosteroids: These medications can help reduce the symptoms of severe allergic reactions by suppressing your immune system and reducing inflammation.
– Epinephrine: This medication can help reverse the symptoms of anaphylaxis by constricting your blood vessels and relaxing your airways.
– Avoidance: The best way to prevent the symptoms of alcohol intolerance and allergy is to avoid drinking alcohol or the ingredient that causes your reaction.


There is no known alcohol allergy, though you can be allergic to substances used in some drinks. Alcohol intolerance is a condition that can look a lot like an alcohol allergy. Alcohol intolerance and allergy are different conditions that can cause unpleasant reactions after drinking alcohol. Alcohol intolerance is caused by a genetic variation that affects your ability to metabolize alcohol. Alcohol allergy is caused by an immune system overreaction to alcohol or its ingredients. Both conditions can be diagnosed and treated by your doctor. The best way to prevent the symptoms is to avoid drinking alcohol or the ingredient that triggers your reaction.

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