Symptoms Of An Allergic Reaction To Alcohol And Its Treatment

Since centuries alcohol is used by people at the time of celebrations, rituals and other social gatherings. Perhaps it is the oldest known drug to mankind. As time passed, its intoxicating effect drove people towards alcohol abuse and addiction. It has become a major problem in society.

However, there are instances where people have experienced alcohol allergy.

Though rare, the symptoms of alcohol allergy are mostly assumed by people to be nothing but a hangover. The most prominent of these symptoms are skin flushing and congestion in nose. They usually occur instantly after drinking alcohol.

Medical fraternity does not substantiate the condition to be an allergy, but they consider it as alcohol intolerance. Deficiency of an enzyme or the ingredients in alcoholic beverages is responsible for such allergies. The only way to prevent alcohol allergy (intolerance) is to abstain alcohol.

What Causes Alcohol Allergy?

People who are allergic to alcohol may experience untoward symptoms. This may force them to give up alcohol. They blame the incidence as bad hangover.

But in reality they fail to realize that it is alcohol allergy. Alcohol allergy is caused when the body is deficient in an enzyme (Aldehyde Dhydrogenase) that is needed for the breakdown of toxins in alcohol. The condition is mostly genetically related and seen in many Asian communities.

There are many other factors responsible for alcohol allergy. This includes ingredients present in alcohol. They are mainly sulfur dioxide, histamine etc. Some people who are allergic to certain type of grains such as wheat, rye, corn, barley may have alcohol allergy if they drink alcohol prepared from that particular grain.

Person suffering from a medical condition called Hodgkin’s lymphoma, their body may not tolerate alcohol. People taking certain medicines may also not tolerate alcohol and instantly produce alcohol allergy symptoms.

Symptoms Of Alcohol Allergy

The symptom of alcohol allergy may vary from person to person. Those who have strong immunity may have mild symptoms. There is not much difference between alcohol allergy symptoms and those caused due to food allergy. Symptoms of alcohol allergy may appear even if a small dose of alcohol is taken.

  • Skin flushing: it is one of the most common and first symptom to appear after ingestion of alcohol. The skin of face and other parts of body becomes red and flushed and warm. Red patches may develop which may start itching. These symptoms usually appear moments after the person has consumed alcohol.
  • Nasal congestion: congestion, sneezing, running nose are common symptoms that soon appear in a person who has alcohol allergy. It results due to excess of mucus production in the nose as a result of dilation of nasal blood vessels.
  • Hives and swelling: the sulphites used as preservative while processing alcoholic beverages may be responsible for hive or anaphylactic reaction.
  • Stomach problems: vomiting, nausea, pain in abdomen, heartburn, may be experienced as a result of alcohol allergy. This may also lead to loss of appetite for a temporary period. However, in most cases the symptoms subsides after few hours.
  • Exaggeration of asthma: those who are suffering from asthma or other breathing problems may experience an exaggeration of their symptoms after consuming alcohol.
  • Headache: person may feel heaviness in head. This may be little late to appear.
  • Palpitation and sweating are other symptoms of alcohol allergy.

Some of the symptoms mimic of alcohol hangover. If there is any confusion, the person should always consult his doctor.

Treatment For Allergic Reaction To Alcohol

  • It is not a difficult task to deal with alcohol allergy. Many people who have undergone the unwarranted symptoms may abstain from drinking alcohol. It is the best way of preventing any further alcohol related problems.
  • The second most important factor is to know which alcoholic beverage he is drinking. For example if a person is allergic to grapes, than he should avoid drinking wine. If a person has allergy from yeast, then he should not drink beer and so on.
  • Thirdly it is always preferable to limit the number of drinks.
  • Antihistamines are sometime useful in reducing itching and hives. However they have to be used only after consulting the doctor. This is because antihistamines may cause drowsiness.
  • For itching and skin troubles resulting from alcohol allergy, apply cold water or cold milk on the affected area. Wear lose fitting cotton clothes.
  • For exacerbation of asthma or severity of other symptoms, a person should always consult his physician.

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