How to Tell If You Have Allergies to Liquor

Опубликовал Admin
21-08-2019, 20:00
Updated: July 26, 2019 Allergies to liquor are uncommon and usually due to an allergy to a specific ingredient in the liquor, but you might suffer from an alcohol intolerance. An alcohol intolerance is caused by an accumulation of acetaldehyde. The symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and severe in some cases. If you suspect that you have an alcohol intolerance, look for physical symptoms and internal and digestive issues, and then visit your doctor to complete medical testing. It’s important to find out whether you have alcohol intolerance or an allergy, as consuming chemicals that you can’t metabolize can have dire consequences. Keep in mind that if you experience a severe allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing, it’s important to call emergency services immediately.

Looking for Physical Symptoms

  1. Look for red facial flushing on the face, neck, chest, or arms. Red flushing on the skin is one of the most common signs of alcohol intolerance. It is also very common for those of Asian descent, and is often referred to ‘Asian flush.’ Sufferers will initially feel a hot or tingling sensation prior to the red flushing. In some cases, your eyes might become red as well. These symptoms may result from drinking just one beer or glass of wine, and you’ll quickly notice your face and neck getting red.
    • This reaction is caused by a mutation in the enzyme called acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, which is supposed to help metabolize alcohol.
    • Those who experience Asian flush are at greater risk for cancer. There are numerous advertised products that claim to get rid of Asian flush, such as Pepcid, but they do not protect you from long-term effects of drinking alcohol. So it’s best to stick to less than 5 alcoholic drinks per week if you experience these symptoms.
    • Flushing may also be due to combining alcohol with a medication you are taking.
  2. Take note of swelling around the face and eyes. Something that may accompany facial flushing is swelling around the red areas. The skin around the eyes, cheeks, and mouth may become visibly swollen after drinking alcohol. This is another sign of alcohol intolerance.
  3. Feel your skin for hives. Red, itchy bumps, called hives, are a common symptom of an allergic reaction. These bumps appear pale red, and may also burn or sting. They can appear anywhere on the body, but you’ll typically see them on the face, neck, or ears. Hives usually fade on their own but can last up to an hour or even days on your skin.
    • The appearance of hives typically means you are allergic to ingredients found in the alcohol. Stop drinking immediately and pick up a bottle of water instead.
    • If you experience hives, apply cool compresses or wet cloths to the affected areas to reduce any itchiness or burning.

Checking for Internal or Digestive Issues

  1. Watch for nausea and vomiting. It’s common for people to get nauseous and even vomit after consuming too much alcohol. However, if you have an allergy or are intolerant to alcohol, you may get nauseous after just 1-2 drinks. Nausea and vomiting with alcohol intolerance may also be accompanied by stomach pain.
  2. Look out for diarrhea after drinking alcohol. Diarrhea is an uncomfortable condition, characterized by loose and watery stools. It is usually accompanied by other symptoms, such as bloating, cramps, and nausea. If you experience diarrhea after consuming alcohol, that is a sign of an alcohol allergy or intolerance, and you should put down your drink immediately.
    • Drink plenty of fluids (preferably water) if you suspect diarrhea. If you have watery stools multiple times a day and are not drinking enough water, you can easily become dehydrated.
    • See your doctor if you experience severe symptoms along with diarrhea, such as bloody stools, a high fever that lasts longer than 24 hours, or severe pain in your abdomen.
  3. Feel a headache or migraine 1-2 hours after alcohol consumption. If you have severe alcohol intolerance, you may experience a painful headache or migraine. The symptoms of a migraine include a pounding headache, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. This headache pain may not occur until 1-2 hours after drinking, and it can last for several hours.
  4. Observe congestion and other allergy symptoms. Wine, champagne, and beer contain histamines, which are chemicals released by the immune system help the body to get rid of allergens. When you consume something you’re allergic to, histamines are released in the body, which can cause congestion, runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes. People with alcohol intolerance may be especially sensitive to red wine and other alcoholic beverages that contain high levels of histamines.
    • Wine and beer also contain sulfites, which are compounds that can also trigger allergy symptoms.

Using Diagnostic Tests

  1. Discuss symptoms with your doctor. If you suspect an alcohol allergy or intolerance, it is important to take a break from alcohol consumption and see a doctor. Your doctor will inquire about your family history, ask about your symptoms, and complete a physical exam. Other tests they perform can help with a diagnosis to determine an allergy or underlying cause of your alcohol intolerance.
  2. Do a skin prick test for a quick diagnosis. The most popular test for food allergies is a skin prick test. During this test, the doctor places different drops of a solution containing various food allergens. Then, using a needle, the doctor gently pricks the skin to allow the solution to enter just below the surface. If a large white bump appears on the skin surrounded by redness, you are most likely allergic to the food that was tested. If no bumps or redness appears, you may not have an allergy to the test food.
    • Ask the doctor to test you for foods that are commonly found in alcohol, such as grapes, gluten, seafood, and grains.
    • The results of this test typically appear within 30 minutes.
  3. Complete a blood test. A blood test can measure your immune system’s response to certain foods by seeing if your blood contains antibodies for a specific substance. For this test, your doctor will send in a blood sample to a medical laboratory, where different foods will be tested.
    • The results of this test can take up to 2 weeks.
  4. Be wary of alcohol consumption if you have asthma or hay fever. There are only a few scientific studies on the link between asthma and alcohol intolerance, but researchers have found that drinking alcohol can sometimes trigger asthma symptoms in those who have the condition. The most common alcoholic beverages that worsen asthma symptoms include champagne, beer, white wine, red wine, fortified wines (such as sherry and port), and spirits (whiskey, brandy, and vodka). Alcohol also affects those with hay fever because it contains varying amounts of histamine, which can worsen symptoms.
    • If you have asthma or hay fever and suspect alcohol intolerance, stay away from red wine, which contains high levels of histamine.
  5. Avoid alcohol if you have an allergy to grains or other foods. Alcoholic beverages contain a variety of different ingredients. If you are allergic to certain foods that are common ingredients, you may experience an allergic reaction when drinking them. Red wine is the most common alcoholic beverage that will cause an allergic reaction. Beer and whiskey are also likely to cause allergic reactions because they contain the 4 common allergens: yeast, barley, wheat, and hops. Some other common food allergens found in alcohol that may be contributing to your allergic reaction include the following:
    • Grapes
    • Gluten
    • Seafood proteins
    • Rye
    • Egg protein
    • Sulfites
    • Histamine


  • This article's advice is intended for people of legal drinking age.
  • Mild alcohol intolerance may not require a trip to the doctor. However, if you’re experiencing severe symptoms, such as trouble breathing, dizziness or fainting, or increased heart rate, call emergency services immediately. These may be signs of a life-threatening allergic reaction.
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