Food & Drink

Allergic to Alcohol: Signs and Treatments

If you thought that constant headaches, reddening of your skin, vomiting or even heartburn were normal after a heavy night out, then you might be wrong. Chances are that you may actually have alcohol allergy. Surprised? Don’t be. Alcohol allergy is real, and it happens because your body is deficient in an enzyme which helps in breaking down the alcohol consumed by you. If the process of breaking down the alcohol doesn’t take place, your body’s immune system gets into defense mode and triggers symptoms similar to that of an allergic reaction.

Symptoms Displayed When Allergic to Alcohol

As already mentioned above, many symptoms of an alcohol allergy mimic that of your regular allergy. Even so, keep an eye out for the following:


Swelling of mouth and nose

This happens because of an ingredient called histamine, usually found in red wine. It’s made of yeast and bacteria, and if you are allergic and exposed to it, your face immediately starts getting puffy. Sometimes, the swelling can be severe enough to block your nasal passage.


Elevated heart rate

I don’t think I need to explain this one. However, know that an increased heart rate is usually accompanied by at least 1-2 other symptoms, and it may force you to sit down because you’re feeling too dizzy to focus and support yourself.



For those who don’t know, hives is a sudden outbreak of red bumps on the skin. Getting hives is very common when you’re allergic to alcohol. They occur because your body is allergic to sulfites, compounds found in most alcoholic beverages. Be wary if these bumps are painful or itch a lot. And be especially careful if you’re asthmatic, because your body will respond more severely to this reaction than a non-asthmatic person’s body. The first thing to do is to stop drinking immediately till your problem subsides.


Alcohol flush reaction

This is akin to having a high fever. Your body turns bright red and very warm. Apart from that, you might feel lightheaded, dizziness or even feel like your heart is just going to explode. Different people react differently.


Nausea and stomach ache

Again, while a little bit of nausea and stomach pain is okay, severe nausea or pain in your stomach just after a couple of beers is cause for concern. Your body might be showing symptoms of allergy to histamine, which swells your blood vessels, leading to severe stomach ache.


Other symptoms may include

  • Headache

  • Low blood pressure

  • Stuffy

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Difficulty in breathing

  • Rashes

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