Symptoms of Alcohol Allergy

Updated on 27 Jun 2011,
Published on 22 Jan 2009

The term alcohol allergy is often referred to as alcohol intolerance rather than allergy. The immune system of different people responds differently to irritations. And thus the symptoms of alcohol allergy may also differ. Some people are enough sensitive to tolerate the irritation after certain limits (until it becomes an allergen). Among those who have a strong physique, even if allergic reaction occurs, it would be mild. All depends on the immunity of the victim.

Alcohol allergy occurs very rarely in the United States and it occurs more commonly in the Asian countries. Those people who suffer from allergic reactions are more prone to alcohol allergy as compared to those who do not. Alcohol intolerance can have an immediate adverse effect on the body as it increases the production of histamines but decreases the body's ability to break it down.

The idea of alcohol allergy has been poorly understood. The symptoms of alcohol allergy are not generally mild. It is very severe and this is one such allergy which should not be considered very lightly.

The symptoms of alcohol allergy are quite similar to that of food allergy. Following are some of the symptoms of alcohol intolerance:

1) Low Intolerance: Just 2 pegs of alcohol are enough to trigger the allergic reaction. Pure alcohol as low as 1 ml is more than enough to evoke rashes, breathing difficulty, stomach cramps, etc.

2) Flushing Reaction: Deficiency of the enzyme Aldehyde Dehydrogenase that helps in the breaking down of alcohol when consumed, can lead to flushing reactions. This reaction may include nausea and rapid heartbeat.

3) Non-Allergic Rhinitis: Alcohol consumption may cause the blood cells of the nose to dilate resulting in the production of mucus and nasal symptoms. It may result into nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, etc.

4) Presence of Sulphites: Sulphites is used for preserving the alcohol. It is added as an additive to the foods to prevent it from spoiling. This may result in the development of hives and anaphylaxis.

5) Hives and Swelling: Consumption of alcohol may aggravate the symptom of the underlying disease in people suffering from chronic urticaria and angioedema.

Other than this, there are a number of other symptoms such as headaches, heart palpitations, vomiting, itchiness; sensation of heat etc. An individual might also experience numbness, tingling feeling and vertigo. In some cases the symptoms of alcohol allergy may often be confused with hangover. It is always best to consult a doctor if you suffer from any allergic symptoms.

Suggested Reading:
What is alcohol allergy?
alcohol allergy and skin reactions

24 Response(s)
I don’t get hives and swellings every time I drink. But there are certain alcohols after drinking which I find myself puking. AM I allergic to alcohol?
Carlos Judith
Man I have gone through the same thing. As in my case, just a peg is enough to trigger all the symptoms
I guess alcohol allergy is not very common in the US.
Yes it isn’t!! Helpful post.
Very few people are prone to this allergy. They are most common in Asia.
after just one drink i start to get dizzy,hot and often get a headache could this be an allergic reaction?
after jst one drink i start feeling tht i body get hot speciall from my back nd after sumtime i got itching all over my back.. its is allergic reaction?????
How long do these symptoms persist? specifically the hives, itching, heat, & difficulty breathing?
My entire face and gums go numb after 2 sips of any alcohol.
Sniv Whettuce
I'm allergic to Reschs Real Bitter.
It doesn't happen all the time but on some occasions I get really red and warm on the upper part of my cheeks right below my eyes. Ill have diffuculty breathing and in some cases I've had a rash or maybe hives spread all the way down to my chest. I started talking claritin before I drink anything and that seems to help.
i can drink alcohol once every two weeks. but if i drink once every week the next morning throughout a week i can understand anything, im sczophrenic and am very anti sociable. any advice would help tormendously.
when i drink eventhe smallest bitt off alcohol i get a headache abit dizzi and a stomache ache also i can act very drunk and is getting drunk
moxey dj
I get very hot and feel like I have a cold after just a couple sips of wine or beer. But most liqour I'm fine with??
in my case its whisky causing hives prominantly.
Does anyone know if this is the same as Asian Flush / alcohol flush reaction? I've got some friends who have this and the symptomes seem similar - red face, itchy skin and what not, but It doesn't seem as serious as you guys, though I have heard of more serious cases. Would antacids work? I've read that they do.
I have been dealing with stomache problems for 5 yrs. I've had numerous blood tests done (all fine), a colonoscopy to check for chron's disease and other stuff (all fine), allergy tests for gluten and wheat ( all fine), an endoscopy (all fine), and even my ovaries checked for endomeatriosis (all fine). When I drink alcohol I am sick for 3-5 days feeling nauseous, puking, diarhea, vertigo, can't eat, drink or sleep, shake constantly, rapid heart beat, and I feel like I'm running a fever. I did not know there were alcohol allergies. Could I possibly have that? I've told my doc that it gets worse when I drink, therefore I do not do it that much. I had drinks last wknd and I am still feeling the effects. I need some advice
Samantha P
I have everyone of these reactions. Different types of alcohol affect me differently. But I always get a red face, neck, and chest; blood shot eyes and difficulty breathing whenever I drink. Other times I have experienced hives, swelling in my hands and arms, itching, rapid heartbeat, and vomiting. I feel like the key to being able to drink alchol is eating a full meal before. I can never drink on an empty stomach or drink with my meal, I will automatically vomit. It can be as little as a half of glass of wine. It will always come right back up. I am lucky enough to be able to tell when I will get sick I start to get really dizzy. After I vomit I feel immeadiately better. Almost like a brand new person. I have tried to take an allergy pill before drinking and it does not seem to help. My father reacts the exact same way to alcohol. He has always known he has had some sot of an allergy to it. So, I guess it would be safe to say that it an inherited allergy. I am not Asian and neither is my father. I am 25% Hawaiian and he is 50% so I don't know if that could be related. But both my sibling are fine when they drink alcohol.
Look Samantha, such allergies have nothing to do with the medicines.... these are unpredictable; no one knows when they arrive and when they leave .... so, the best way to get rid of such allergic reactions, is to omit the allergen at once... u r lucky to get the right diagnosis, some people never come to know about the right allergen... So, it wud be better for u if u stop drinking alcohol as soon as possible! n yes, it cud be hereditary... but that doesn't matter much, what matters is how to get rid of such dreadful allergic reactions... we wish u all the very best! take care ! Regards, HealthCareVeda Team.
Tissa udayakumara
Thanks for health care veda team I decided to stop drink liquer.
By any chance can anyone relate to my symptoms... when i drink alcohol (over the years I have narrowed it down to pre-mixed drinks and some wines) with in the first sip or two i can tell if i am going to be in pain or not. technically the pain starts in my chest but then immediatly spreads to my arms and shoulders (horrible dull achy pain). Even kind of hard to breath. just latey, severe (poss. cramping) pain in stomach. i have had this since i was a teen (happened a few times over the past 20 yrs. with ice tea, and cola). this is why i don't drink very often. I'm in the process of getting a bunch of gastro tests done, but could this poss. be a alcohol allergy? -yes flush face, hot, but no rash.
Hi my name is brett hicks and for the past 3 years iv been dealing with similar but very different problems. If i drink say friday saterday than i am fine the whole time but by monday i start to get extremely uncomfortable unbarable symptoms that last up to 2 weeks! especially if i drink more than a few days in a row. I get goosebumps all over my body that has the exact appearance of someone who is freezing cold. But they will happen when it is warm or cold doesn't matter and they always feel like there burning hot and super sensitive to touch and air. Ill also start to sweat heavily from the face before it happens. I feel nausias and it feels like my brain is booing hot and tingly/ itchy all over. This will last non stop for like 2 days ( were i can not leave the house and shower 30 times a day because it is the only thing that provides relief. ( wearing cloths is extremely uncomfortable) Than seem to get better but be on and off for days and days even weeks after witch makes me unsure if it is caused by elchohal. Anyone that knows of anyone who have had this same problem or similar please let me know you would be a life saver! thanks for your time.
after just one drink of anything i start to hypervenalate (excuse spelling) and my entire body goes numb. my body also starts twitching and i puke uncontrolably. i have gone to the emergency room multiple times as a result of my drinks getting spiked and have been dead on paper about 3 times (heart stopped but was revived). Is my heart stopping a sign of an allergic reaction??
hi ashley, this might be your body's strong reaction against alcohol consumption. but do not worry, the treatment is within you only, just avoid its consumption for a while and notice if you face the same situation again. If no, then it's clear that yours is the case of alcohol allergy. And if not, then get yourself diagnosed properly. Wishing you good health !! regards, HealthCareVeda Team.
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