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Allergic To Alcohol: Managing Alcohol Intolerance

Being allergic to alcohol may be a condition not known to everyone, but in truth, there are many Americans who are suffering from what may appear to be allergy to alcohol due to certain elements present in this commonly taken beverage. For most people, alcohol consumption can result to hangovers, depending on the amount consumed. But some, especially those who suffer from alcohol intolerance, experience immediate reactions after taking it. The symptoms of alcohol allergy are usually similar to those of the other types of allergy.

What is alcohol intolerance?

Alcohol intolerance is often described as an unpleasant reaction following the intake of an alcoholic beverage. The adverse reaction may be caused by a lack of the enzyme referred to as Aldehyde Dehydrogenase (ALDH) which metabolizes the alcohol into acetate acid, or vinegar, which the body can convert to usable energy. Alcohol is poisonous to the human system, and when the body is unable to break down the alcohol, the body attempts to eliminate the toxins. The purging process can set off an immune reaction and cause symptoms that are comparable to an allergy episode.

Alcohol intolerance symptoms

For an alcohol intolerant person, the symptoms that are triggered after taking alcohol are similar to typical allergies, which is why they are sometimes referred to as symptoms of alcohol allergy. These include the following:

  • Flushing skin
  • Red, itchy skin
  • Runny, congested nose
  • Headache
  • Warm sensation
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Severe coughing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nasal congestion

People suffering from these alcohol allergy symptoms need to be given medical attention as soon as possible. Failure to do so may result in permanent damage to the brain or to the heart, or worst, can cause the death of the individual.

Treatment and testing for people allergic to alcohol

Treatment for allergic reactions to alcohol may only be temporary and is mostly aimed at managing the symptoms and preventing complications. Symptoms of the mild kind can be managed through the intake of antihistamines. Individuals who may be suffering from allergy to alcohol ingredients may also need to be subjected to skin testing. However, the results may not always be consistent.

But alcohol challenges, on the contrary, can provide more reliable results, together with a patient’s medical history and physical evaluation. There have been published reports that patients who underwent alcohol allergy testing have had obtained negative skin test results to ethanol. Other patients who took alcohol challenges came out positive to alcohol and acetic acid. There are others who had positive results to acetic acid on skin testing, but had negative challenges.

Controlling alcohol allergy symptoms

The easiest way to manage the symptoms and to be rid of the consequences of being allergic to alcohol would be to completely avoid taking alcohol. This will be possible by being aware of what types of beverages to stay away from. There are a lot of alcohol and wine products that can trigger allergy and asthma attacks. Fortunately for those who have a love for drinking, there are wines out there that are made without preservatives, which usually trigger allergy attacks. But to be sure, one needs to submit himself for allergy testing and medical checkup and evaluation.