Alcohol Allergy and Intolerance

allergy to alcohol picture

I had been a legal drinker for about 7 years before coming to terms with what I thought was an allergic reaction to alcohol. It saddened me that I could never enjoyed a cold beer on a hot day, a glass of champagne at a celebration, or a stiff drink with my old man. Why?

Because whenever I drank alcohol my face turned bright red, my neck broke into a sever rash, my body started to itch like crazy and I got a throbbing headache that made me want to curl up into a ball and dieDoes this sound familiar?

 

What is an Alcohol Allergy?

Believe it or not but a true allergy to alcohol is very rare.  Most people who experience allergy-like symptoms after consuming alcohol are statistically more likely to be suffering from Asian flush than any kind of allergy.  Moreover, in the case of a true alcohol allergy, the reaction is usually brought about by an intolerance to a particular ingredient used in the manufacturing of the alcohol rather than the actual alcohol itself.
 

Common Allergens found in Alcohol

The following are some of the more common allergens used in the manufacturing processes of most alcoholic beverages:

  • gluten
  • wheat
  • egg or seafood protein
  • histamines and sulphites
  • rye
  • barley
  • yeast
  • hops

If you are allergic to any of the above ingredients then you should pay particular attention to the type of alcohol you are drinking.  This is because they will vary greatly based on ingredients used in their manufacturing processes and will in dictate how severly they will affect your intolerance to any one particular ingredient.
 

Distinguishing Symptoms

It is important to know whether the symptoms you are experiencing are from a true alcohol allergy or some other genetic predisposition like Asian flush reaction.  This is because there is very little you can do if you have a true alcohol allergy other than not drink, whereas if you have Asian flush there are many things you can do so you can drink alcohol without any of the unwanted symptoms.  So how do you know?

The first thing you should do is consult with your medical practitioner.  They know you best and should be able to let you know whether your intolerance is a result of a true allergy or a genetic enzymic deficiency in the case of Asian flush.

As a guide, a person with a true allergy to alcohol will most likely experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, stomach cramps and total collapse after even the smallest sip of alcohol.

On the other hand, a person with Asian flush or alcohol flush reaction will most likely red flushing, nausea, throbbing headaches and a rapid heartbeart after more than just a tiny sip of alcohol.

If you think you might be in the second group read on to hear about my alcohol intolerance story.
 

References

1. http://oade.nd.edu/educate-yourself-alcohol/alcohol-allergies-do-they-exist/

2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7889434

3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8889265

4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10513355

5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7418191

7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3782677

8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3904432

9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2875848/

10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11590395

11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1684787/

12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9087153

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