5 Signs You’re Allergic To Alcohol — Not Just Alcohol Intolerant
11
October

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /


5 Signs You’re Allergic To Alcohol — Not
Just Alcohol Intolerant You’ve probably known since childhood what
your allergies are, whether it concerns peanuts, soy, milk or shellfish. But figuring out whether you’re allergic to
alcohol isn’t easy, as many of the symptoms of such an allergy can be mistaken for the
unpleasant yet common side effects of getting drunk. Some people might even misinterpret an allergic
reaction as a particularly ugly hangover that can be slept off. I mean, alcohol isn’t meant to make you feel
good the next morning, right? But it’s important to learn about alcohol
allergies, because although they’re rare, they do exist. Just like any other allergy, they shouldn’t
be ignored — leaving them untreated for a long time could lead to severe allergic
reactions that could land you in the hospital. You’ll also feel a lot better if you’re aware
of what to avoid going forward, and what to drink more and less of. Before we get into the specific signs of an
alcohol allergy, though, you should know this: Having an allergy to alcohol isn’t interchangeable
with having an alcohol intolerance. The latter is much more common, as researchers
at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz discovered during their study of 950 regular
drinkers. Almost 25 percent showed signs of intolerance. The symptoms of alcohol allergy and alcohol
intolerance have quite a bit of overlap, but there are small differences here and there
that make a huge difference in telling them apart. There hasn’t been much research on allergic
reactions to alcohol, but there’s enough information out there to know what the symptoms are, and
why they’re dangerous. If anything below rings true for you on a
regular basis, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Here are five signs you’re allergic to alcohol,
as well as how to tell them apart from the symptoms of alcohol intolerance. Keep them in mind next time you’re smack dab
in the middle of happy hour. 1. You Experience Alcohol Flush Reaction
Giphy Commonly known as the Asian glow (even though
it doesn’t only plague people of Asian descent), alcohol flush reaction is an extremely uncomfortable
way your body informs you that you’re allergic to alcohol. Your face, neck, and chest turn bright red,
and everything gets warm to the touch. This happens because your body isn’t wired
to metabolize alcohol. You are able to break down alcohol into acetaldehyde,
but you lack the enzyme ALDH2, which is what processes the very toxic acetaldehyde into
harmless substances that can be flushed out of your system. There’s more to it than redness on your skin,
though. The alcohol flush reaction can be extremely
uncomfortable. You feel dizzy, maybe lightheaded. Personally, my face actually breaks out in
blotches and blemishes, and it feels like my heart is going to burst out of my cheeks. How It’s Different From An Intolerance: People
who have an intolerance will likely see a flushed, red face staring back at them in
the mirror after a few beers, but the aches and pains don’t necessarily accompany the
blush. So if you’re a little pink in the cheeks without
the physical discomfort, don’t worry too much — you’re probably not fighting an allergy. 2. You Get Hives If you’re breaking out everywhere in hives,
it means you’re facing anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction that turns your whole body
hypersensitive. Keep a close eye on what the red spots feel
like — if they’re super itchy and painful, stop drinking immediately. Hives are a big sign that you’re allergic
to sulfites, a group of compounds which are naturally produced in alcohol. Be extra wary if you’re asthmatic; 10 percent
of people with asthma have a bad allergic reaction to alcohol because of the sulfites
present. How It’s Different From An Intolerance: You
might experience a few itchy, dry spots on your skin from those cocktails you had last
Friday night. If they’re not particularly painful, they’re
probably not a big deal, and they’re just indicators that you might want to cut back
a little bit on the amount you’re consuming. It could also point to an ingredient in the
booze that doesn’t sit well with you, like gluten. 3. Your Nose And Mouth Swell If you feel parts of your face getting puffy,
you could be allergic to histamine, a compound generated by the bacteria and yeast in alcohol. It’s found in red wine, so if you’re a Cabernet
Sauvignon aficionado, sorry to inform you that it might be time to give it up. Swelling of the nasal passageways could result
in difficult breathing, so it’s not a symptom that should be taken lightly. How It’s Different From An Intolerance: Grabbing
a tissue to combat a runny nose is a very common side effect of alcohol intolerance. If you’ve got a stuffy nasal passage that
doesn’t seem to be swollen or constricting your ability to breathe normally, you can
rest assured that your issue is probably one of intolerance. Keep track of what you’re drinking, and how
much of it, to figure out a way to prevent this symptom. 4. You Get Stomach Cramps And Nausea Alcohol isn’t exactly the most soothing thing
to put in your stomach, especially in large quantities. But you shouldn’t be wrestling with intense
pain just because you had a few beers. Excruciating stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea
point to a potential alcohol allergy — and/or an allergy to histamine, which is known to
swell your blood vessels and cause acute abdominal cramping. How It’s Different From An Intolerance: A
tummy ache is to be expected if you make your way to a brewery without realizing you’re
intolerant to the wheat they use in your favorite beer. If you’re only facing some discomfort, like
annoying gas pain, free of the urge to run to the bathroom and puke, it’s likely that
the ingredients in your choice of beverage just don’t vibe with you. 5. Your Heart Rate Elevates This generally falls under the umbrella of
alcohol flush reaction. While your skin turns bright red and you can’t
stop scratching the hives you’ve broken out into, don’t be surprised if your heartbeat
has skyrocketed and you feel slightly dizzy. This is incredibly uncomfortable, and you
probably will have the feeling that you need to sit down for a second. Obviously, whenever your heart rate escalates,
it’s hard to catch your breath. Dr. Heinz Decker, author of the Johannes Gutenberg
University of Mainz study, says that when you notice a change in your overall breathing
pattern, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor — and probably lay off
the booze for a little while, at least until you figure out what’s going on. How It’s Different From An Intolerance: This
can be a tough distinction to make, because an increased heart rate is a symptom of intolerance
as well. For the most part, though, those who don’t
have a true allergic reaction won’t experience this side effect as severely — your heart
may be working a bit harder, but you won’t battle the same debilitating shortness of
breath.


9 thoughts on “5 Signs You’re Allergic To Alcohol — Not Just Alcohol Intolerant

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  4. Tomorrow, I am scheduledto test my blood becuz I have allergy on alcohol. This time it is so serious because its been a week since I have a hives. I’m ready to cry if I’m not allowed to drink anymore HAHA

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