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Can You Be Allergic to Alcohol?

Graphic showing the symptoms of an alcohol allergy

Have you started to notice any unpleasant symptoms after alcohol consumption? In particular, symptoms that most individuals do not experience when they drink?

Whether these symptoms have recently appeared out of nowhere or you’ve always had them after drinking, signs of alcohol allergies and intolerance should not be overlooked.

In those people with alcohol allergy, 1 ml of pure alcohol (equal to 10 ml of wine or a mouthful of beer) can cause severe rashes, stomach cramps, difficulty breathing, or collapse. Alcohol can also increase the risk of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) caused by other factors, such as food.

Finding out you have an alcohol allergy may seem like the end of enjoyable nights out with friends and unwinding sessions after work, but this is not always the case.

Key Takeaways

You may notice that even after consuming a small amount of alcohol or products containing alcohol, you feel wasted. This may be a sign that you are allergic to alcohol.

  • Alcohol allergies are a real condition, and many people are allergic to alcohol.
  • Alcohol allergy occurs when a person’s immune system treats alcohol as a threat.
  • Symptoms of alcohol allergy can range from moderate to severe.
  • Symptoms of alcohol allergy can only be avoided by total abstinence from alcohol and products that contain alcohol.

If you notice you, your family member, or a friend has allergic reactions to alcohol or has a drinking problem, The Haven Detox-New England can provide the required medical attention and help. Contact us at (844) 933-4145!

Defining Alcohol Allergy

An alcohol allergy refers to a toxic reaction to alcoholic beverages or other products containing alcohol, such as tomato sauces, cough syrups, mouthwashes, and salad dressings.

People can develop allergies to plant and fungal sources of alcoholic drinks, such as grapes, barley, wheat, rye, yeast, histamines (common in red wines), and sulfites (common in white wines).

Although alcohol allergies are uncommon, they can have major medical implications, including anaphylactic shock and death.

Alcohol intolerance, a related condition, is more common. It is a metabolic disorder that leads to uncomfortable side effects caused by a hereditary inability of the human body to break down and dispose of alcohol in the bloodstream properly.

Allergies are a common form of illness. According to estimates, up to 50 million Americans have some type of allergy—symptoms of an alcohol allergy range from moderate to severe.

If you are experiencing alcohol allergy symptoms, seek help from a healthcare provider right away.

Symptoms of an Alcohol Allergy

If you are suffering from a true alcohol allergy, even small amounts of alcohol can result in unpleasant symptoms. It can also trigger anaphylaxis in some cases. This is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.

You can be allergic to alcohol. 

Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include the following:

  • Runny nose.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, face, or hands.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Nasal congestion, wheezing, or difficulty breathing.
  • Disorientation, light-headedness, and loss of consciousness.
  • Dermatological reactions, such as hives or itching.
  • Worsening asthma symptoms.

The symptoms of alcohol allergy should never be ignored. An allergic reaction to alcoholic drinks can quickly become worse if left untreated. In some cases, a severe reaction can be life-threatening.

An alcohol allergy is possible to develop at any point in your life. The sudden onset of symptoms may also be caused by newly developed alcohol intolerance. In rare cases, severe pain after consuming alcohol may be a sign of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

If you experience the symptoms mentioned above after consuming alcohol, make an appointment with your doctor.

Causes of an Alcohol Allergy

People who are allergic to alcohol experience a negative reaction after as little as 1 ml of pure alcohol or a mouthful of beer or wine (about 10 ml).

Researchers are still finding out why some people have an allergic reaction to alcohol, even though the body produces small amounts naturally.

In some situations, severe alcohol reactions are misdiagnosed as allergies when the cause is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes.

Other foods that may trigger an alcohol allergy include:

  • Mouthwash.
  • Tomato puree.
  • Cough syrup.
  • Food marinades.
  • Overripe fruit that has fermented.

Doctors can diagnose allergies based on the production of antibodies. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies cause an allergic reaction in the body, accompanied by typical allergic reaction symptoms.

Also, skin and blood testing can measure immune system reactions to certain drugs.

Treating Alcohol Allergies

If you are allergic to alcohol, the best way to avoid symptoms is to avoid alcohol completely. Even small amounts of alcohol might cause a strong allergic reaction.

Read the ingredient lists of foods and drinks, question restaurant staff about menu items, and avoid alcohol-containing products.

If you are allergic to another ingredient found in some alcoholic beverages, switching to a different drink may be an option. For example, barley is commonly found in beer but not wine. Consult your doctor for advice.

If you experience mild allergic reactions, antihistamines may be enough to treat it. If you show signs of a severe allergic reaction to alcohol, you should take one or more doses of epinephrine. 

Adrenaline is another name for this drug. It comes in preloaded syringes called epinephrine auto-injectors (e.g., EpiPen).

If you experience non-allergic intolerance to alcohol, sulfites, histamine, or other ingredients of alcoholic drinks, your doctor may advise you to limit or avoid specific types of alcohol. In some cases, over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications may help relieve symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you know if you are allergic to alcohol?

If you feel wasted after getting drunk and your body exhibits severe withdrawal symptoms, you are likely allergic to alcohol.Alcohol allergy is exactly like any other allergy. Some people are intolerant to milk, soy, peanuts, and other foods, but some people’s bodies can’t tolerate alcohol after a certain amount.
Following are the ten telltale signs that you are allergic to alcohol and products that contain alcohol:
Runny nose.
Low blood pressure.
Itchy skin.
Nasal congestion.
Fast heartbeats and restlessness.

Can you suddenly become alcohol intolerant?

Alcohol intolerance develops when your body lacks the enzymes needed to break down (metabolize) the toxins in alcohol. Alcohol intolerance is a real condition that can occur suddenly or gradually over time.If you have a pattern of suddenly getting sick after drinking, you may be alcohol intolerant. Your body may also begin to reject alcohol later in life because the way you respond to alcohol changes as you age and your body changes.

Can you develop an allergy to alcohol?

In a nutshell, yes, you can be allergic to alcohol, and many people are. And there is no way to avoid allergic reactions other than to avoid the alcohol ingredients that cause the reaction.Although you may think you know your allergies, getting expert advice from the finest allergy specialist is always a good idea.
This way, you’ll know what to avoid and may make informed decisions on how to enjoy an alcoholic beverage properly.

What does an intolerance to alcohol feel like?

Alcohol intolerance can result in an immediate, unpleasant reaction after you drink alcohol. When you are intolerant to alcohol, you experience the following signs after drinking:
Low blood pressure.
Nausea and vomiting.
Facial redness.
Red, itchy skin bumps.
Runny or stuffy nose.
Worsening of pre-existing asthma.

Am I allergic to alcohol?

An alcohol allergy occurs when your body perceives alcohol as a potentially harmful intruder and produces antibodies to combat it. This results in an allergic reaction.If you experience the following signs every time you drink alcohol or consume products that contain alcohol, you are most likely allergic to alcohol.
Stomach cramps.
Trouble breathing.
Swelling of face, throat, and other body parts.
Nasal congestion.

Start a New Chapter at The Haven Detox-New England

While alcohol allergies are rare, the effects of this condition can be serious. The only way to avoid symptoms of allergic reaction is to avoid alcohol.

Just as a treatment for an alcohol allergy requires total abstinence from alcohol and products that contain alcohol, recovery from an alcohol use disorder (AUD) calls for the same. The Haven Detox-South Florida can help you transition to sobriety.

Besides helping patients with alcohol addiction, our treatment center helps patients suffering from all other addictions, such as benzo addiction, cocaine addiction, heroin addiction, opioid addiction, and meth addiction.

We offer various effective treatment services, including medically-supervised detox, residential treatment, dual diagnosis, and therapies.

Our treatment facility is committed to helping our patients regain control of their lives, thanks to the power of personalized treatment and our dedicated healthcare providers.

Therefore, contact us at (844) 933-4145 to get more information on how we can help you begin your journey toward long-term sobriety and have an active life.